Today as I was out doing a little bit of exercise, I began to think about an uncle of mine that recently passed away. I don’t know if it is the fact that I’m in 4th of July mode or what. I just know that I began to think about the life that he lived and how he shines as an example in my life and the lives of most of the family. I’m sure the clear blue skies covering the horizon, green with trees, probably thrust me into some sort of deep philosophical mode. In any case, I began to think about what makes men great. I realize there is the old discussion of whether great men shape society, or whether society shapes great men. I do not want to take that discussion on at this time. I’m simply thinking about what makes an individual a great man.
Based on the knowledge of my uncle’s life, I can tell you that perfection has nothing to do with it. My uncle was certainly imperfect. Recently I had a discussion with someone that interacted with him and they evidently didn’t see him the way I do. Every time they mentioned his name they followed it with some reason why their troubles were his fault. Those conversations are probably the one thing that triggered the thought behind this post. I have to say that it was difficult to sit there and listen to them. Yet in my mind, even after my encounter withÂ such negative energy, my uncle was a great man. Let me tell you why.
Though my uncle had many flaws, he managed to have that many more great traits and attitudes. He was far from perfect. In fact he was so far from perfect that he was basically human. I know. Who would have known? A great man that is also human. Not only did he have more great traits than flaws, but he knew how to make sure his goodness overwhelmed his flaws in as many interactions with those around him as possible. Whenever he could he would shower those in need with kindness and help. He seemed to know just how to shine his light in the direction of those that would appreciate it the most. I was one of the beneficiaries of his enlightenment. As you can tell I will forever be grateful to him.
“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”
– George Washington
When I hear someone degrade or berate our founding fathers because of their flaws, much like in my uncle’s case, it becomes unbearable and I want to walk away or better yet, send them away to another land if possible. Of course the founding fathers had flaws. Of course my uncle had flaws. That is irrelevant. What is important is that in each case they were able to surrender their flaws just enough to create greatness in the rest of us, or at the very least, create the space and opportunity for us to pursue greatness. After all, I believe that great men are merely flawed men that allow their goodness to overthrow their flaws and spread its arms towards their neighbor.Â Their flawsÂ are the focusÂ of the faint of heart and the ill-seekers of this world. The rest of us will always remember their greatness.
It is my wish to be great. I want to be one that is able to subdue his flaws and elevate his virtues enough so that those around me desire the same. In a way I’m glad life gave me the chance to make the reflection that I am posting here. It lets me know that despite my flaws I have a chance to become great. Hopefully this post helps the reader to discover that imperfections are part of life. What will make the difference is what you choose to subdue and what you choose to send to those around you. Choose greatness. It’s right there inside of you, next to failure and doubt. Greatness is just one simple choice away. Starve your flaws and feed your virtues. Be what you were created to be. Over 200 years later we are still witnessing what happens when a few flawed men decide to become great men. It’s our proud heritage.
Thank God for my uncle, the founding fathers, and in particular George Washington. God Bless the great United States of America, the product of great men.
Happy 4th of July.