On Friday, November 30, President George Herbert Bush succumbed to a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. As the 41st President of the United States, he was born into a life of affluence. And yet, his commitment to civil service would provide a foundation for his life’s work. This “gentleman president”, as he was affably described, possessed gentile character that appeared to be guided by his faith. It was the principles of his Christian faith which were peppered throughout the many speeches he delivered. As an example, during his inauguration speech President Bush decisively avowed that “America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. Where we as a people have given such a purpose today - to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.” President Bush always hoped that our nation would be seen as a guiding force for morality. Yet, it is also important to note that he wasn’t afraid to stand firm in the face of threats to the dignity of our human family. Correspondingly, George H. Bush helped to usher in the end of the Cold War. In addition, his leadership engaged in military operations to confront the evil actions of dictators like Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein. As further evidence to his traditional values, he was a man who believed in paying one’s dues. To this point, Lt. George H. Bush flew 58 combat missions for the US Navy during WWI. As well, he later faithfully served as the US Representative for Texas, an ambassador to the United Nations, the Director of the CIA and eight years as Vice-President before winning his bid to the presidency in 1988. Collectively, his life’s work was grounded by his commitment to serving others.
When we lose a national leader who lived a life of service towards his community and our country, it is easy to question if leaders can still be guided by a morality of faith. A society where the glamorization of an ego-centric culture seems to have surpassed that of civility and grace. Where goodness is sacrificed for the expense of personal gains. The question remains, can we still educate young people to recognize the value and the importance of being guided by a moral compass? Do the principles of integrity, character and decency still matter? May I confidently say, yes they do! These qualities are not only important, they are essential. Now more than ever, our country and our world needs communities to instill in our youth the virtues of goodness through a lens of faith. And although it might be easy to doubt that such leaders can be developed,
who are taught the value of critical analysis and forming decisions based upon the moral teachings of our faith. Ultimately, our students learn that the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments can provide a guiding framework to every choice and decision we make as humans.