In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 2 Marc Antony rises to speak at Caesar’s funeral and says, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Thomas Jefferson was brilliant. He was encyclopedic in his knowledge of science, philosophy and government. He along with a handful of brilliant men gave us America. Winston Churchill stirred the hearts of his countrymen and fortified them to resist in the darkest of times. Yet, so often I hear that both men were spendthrifts with little control over their wallets. Why do we do this? Why do we say things like this? Is it to reassure ourselves that even great men are not perfect? Why when speaking of Judas do we always talk of the betrayal and rarely speak of his genuine love for Jesus? Why when speaking of Noah do we refer to him as a drunk and rarely, if ever, speak of him as the savior of humanity?
Even as I write I realize I am doing it. In a backhanded way I am reminding you of these great men’s faults lest you forget they were not perfect. Jonah must have been a powerful preacher but rarely do we hear about his oratory.
In Romans 12 Paul wrote, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” If we did surely we would not be sure to speak of another’s failures. I know a man who calls me friend and yet every time he sees me he speaks of one of my failures. I really don’t need him to do that. I know and remember them well. I confess I am happy to rarely see him.
Written by Roger Bothwell on June 15, 2016
PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574