When my children were young I was always on the look out for books that would help me in the building of their character. So I was overjoyed when I stumbled upon a little publication entitled, “George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” This book was a treasure! So much so that after watching the recent presidential debate I have felt tempted to send a copy to presidential candidate Donald Trump.
George Washington’s Rules of Civility were written by our first president when he was just sixteen years old. Even at that young age, President Washington understood there were certain things that a person should and shouldn’t say, and should and shouldn’t do, especially in public. In fact, he penned 110 rules that he strove to live by. Some of his entries are a little outdated and difficult to relate to such as rule #13:
Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it…
But most of Washington’s rules of civility are timeless, such as the following:
#1 Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
#49 Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
#65 Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.
In comparison, let’s look at a few comments by Donald Trump to see how he measures up to Washington’s civility scale.
On Mexican immigrants:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best… they’re sending people that have lots of problems… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. … And some, I assume, are good people.”
On African Americans:
“Laziness is a trait in the blacks. … Black guys counting my money! I hate it.”
“The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yamakas every day.”
On Rosie O’Donnell:
“If I were running ‘The View,’ I’d fire Rosie [O’Donnell]. I mean, I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say, ‘Rosie, you’re fired.'”
“Rosie O’Donnell’s disgusting both inside and out. You take a look at her, she’s a slob. She talks like a truck driver, she doesn’t have her facts, she’ll say anything that comes to her mind.
On Arianna Huffington:
“Arianna Huff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.”
On women in general:
“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of a**.”
If we compare the rules of civility by George Washington with these comments by Donald Trump we see a glaring difference. Donald Trump is offensive. He is rude. He is unkind. He is a racist and a sexist. He shows no respect for anyone. And he clearly demonstrates a lack of self-control in both his speech and his behavior.
The leader of our nation must treat his or her fellow man, woman, and child with courtesy and respect. Our commander in chief must understand simple rules of civility and basic kindness. The role of president is that of a caretaker, protector, and generator of good to ALL the people he represents and leads. And name-calling and insults are never acceptable!
As I assess the qualifications of the presidential candidates I look at many things. I look at their stance on critical issues. I look at their experience. I look at their character. And I ask myself the following questions about each candidate.
Does this candidate demonstrate self-control in his speech and behavior, and can we count on him/her to have self-control if elected leader of our nation?
Has this candidate demonstrated that he/she knows how to be tactful and use restraint when dealing with people of differing viewpoints?
Can we trust this candidate to protect us, or is he/she the type of man/woman who would make a rash decision that would endanger our national security in a moment of irritation or anger?
Will this candidate bring respect and honor to our nation?
Does this candidate demonstrate compassion and kindness to all people, and have a strong moral compass?
Do I feel re-assured that this candidate will make the welfare of all people, including all races, religions, and genders, his main concern?
When I examine the speech and behavior of Donald Trump I do not believe he provides satisfactory answers to these questions. And if Donald Trump aspires to hold the highest office of our land, the presidency, he should look to our first president as a guiding example.
George Washington showed great wisdom in penning his Rules of Civility. It is my hope that as we elect our next president we will choose a man or woman who lives by a similar code.