Jen Jeffrey Billington: The First American

Thursday, August 9, 2018 - by Jen Jeffrey Billington

The old adage “You can’t re-write history” is certainly true, though I believe we are in a time when a few people would like to dismiss select historical events (or people) from our timeline.

Even if we are not proud of some past events, they certainly were important parts of history for us to either learn from them, to see how far we have come, or to remember what we have gone through and to give honor where it is due.

As the human race continues to evolve, we look back only for a moment to understand how to press forward. We can’t let the past ‘hurt our feelings’. We just learn from it and move on, but we must never omit what has happened. We are never to discount good people trying to make a difference even if they were wrong.

Who is to say we aren’t making mistakes in which 75 years from now, our great-grandchildren will roll their eyes and wonder, “What we were thinking?”

One thing I hope we all agree on, is that we are part of a great nation. America… the beautiful!

From the mountains, to the prairie, to the oceans white with foam. God bless America! He has, and I pray He will continue.

While not wanting to be a part of the bickering political ‘parties’ my prayer is that one day we move on from them. I have friends on both sides, but oh how I detest that we even ‘take sides’. I understand why, and I understand the disagreements. What I don’t understand is the way we do it. We stand so firm with a party, that we have become close-minded. We cannot listen to anyone affiliated with the ‘other side’ and we will not budge.

I see good and bad points from both sides, but I do not hate my brother if I disagree with him on those points. I don’t jump on social media and call names or trash talk. I think a few people who are passionate about their political view, needs to learn how to appropriately use that passion in which God gave them. I’m not saying it is wrong to be passionate and to care about an issue – but it is wrong how some people will behave because of their passions.

If you read Romans chapter 13 (the whole chapter) God tells us how we are to behave regarding politics, (I will leave that for you to chew on for when your heart seeks the answer).

Being an American is a privilege.

When I read accounts of our history and how we became the United <cough> States of America, I understand the desire of our forefathers. When we were united. When we showed respect for each other.

Impressed greatly by one of our founding fathers and what I had in common with him, I wanted to encourage you to find a person of history in which you identify with. Let’s not forget these people who truly made America great.

Benjamin Franklin.

A founding father before George Washington was the first president. A scientist, an inventor, a statesman. Mr. Franklin is responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He lived in Philadelphia and he had also lived in England before America’s birth. That was very brave during that time.

Back in 1722, he wrote essays for his brother’s publication (unbeknownst to his brother) under the pseudonym, “Silence Dogood” - an elderly, sassy woman. Ben was 16-years-old.

When I read this in an article recently, memories of grade school popped in my head. My teacher had explained what a pseudonym was and how Ben Franklin used a fictious name in order to get his brother to print his writing.

Flash-forward to my love for writing today and how my favorite assignment was when I was a spy incognito. Posing as an elderly, sassy woman who <tongue in cheek> gave restaurant reviews all around Chattanooga, and “Willie Mae” was born. Her satirical reviews were more for entertainment, though everything she wrote about her dining experience was true – all except who she really was. What I could not say as “Jen Jeffrey” the sassy Willie Mae could say. I had so much fun with her and readers seemed to love her stories. Either they loved her or hated her – but they were reading.

The same for ol’ Ben when he also wrote under “Poor Richard’s Almanack”. He wanted to bring people together and one way of doing that was through ‘laughter’. Though he spoke words of wisdom in his political pieces, he got people to laugh at themselves when he used satire and wit while getting his point across.

Ben was not one to take sides, though he may have been considered democrat; I don’t think he appreciated labels. For all that he stood for, he promoted bringing people together.

We could use a Benjamin Franklin today.

During his life, one of his catchphrases was “Both sides must part with some of their demands.” Compromise was not only a practical method in resolving conflict, but a moral one.

When Mr. Franklin returned from France to become the sage at the constitutional convention, he may not have been America’s most philosophical political theorist, but he was noble and compromise was a strength he possessed – a key to the assembly’s success.

Using his catch-phrase many times, it was most important when the Constitutional Convention became deadlocked on the issue of whether the new Congress should be proportioned by population or equal votes for each state, and Franklin was one of the first to develop federal compromise.

I love the analogy he used to make a point, “When a broad table is to be made, and the edges of planks do not fit, the artist takes a little from both and makes a good joint.”

If we ‘planks’ are ever going to come together to form a cooperative joint – a cornerstone, a solid nation; then tolerance, humility and respect are required in compromise.

The historical document would never have been approved if the people stood on unwavering principals as we do today. 

Mr. Franklin believed in God, though he did not subscribe to one particular doctrine. His morality was built on a sincere belief in leading a virtuous life and serving a country he loved. He raised money to build a new hall in Philadelphia in which he invited ordained priests from any religion to use the pulpit. As he was laid to rest, several clergies from varying faiths carried Ben Franklin’s casket.

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

* * * *

jenjeffreybillington@gmail.com


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