George Washington served in the militia, then worked as a surveyor and justice of the peace. In choosing to fight for a new nation, he did so without bad-mouthing the King. As a Revolutionary General, then as President, he listened to opposing counselors then looked for the best way forward based on their varied positions and backgrounds. These experiences taught him to respect and value his adversaries.
Washington’s contemporaries noted his deliberative and conservative manner. They chafed at his interest in seeing all sides and considering all options. Far from the fiery rhetoric that had whipped colonists into action, the first President’s cool head and sober decisions allowed newly-formed states to build consensus and unanimity despite major disagreements. His final message to the country was to move beyond partisan or geographical divisions and to unite as free men.
Leading a spiritual life does not make everyone love you. Oftentimes people will go out of their way to disagree with your choices. George Washington’s most noted achievements were possible because he had both an opponent and the ability to see their side in an argument. He respected his adversaries yet did his duty, which at times meant killing them. Washington’s lesson for spiritual seekers is his respect for rivals and disagreements. Challengers may present lessons we wouldn’t otherwise learn and opinions we wouldn’t otherwise hear. All are of equal value in the end.
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