by Bruce Feiler
Buy your copy of Glenn’s latest recommended book, The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler. Or pick up Bruce’s New York Times bestseller, America’s Prophet, which Glenn called “the best book of narrative history I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. To learn more, or watch a video of Bruce talking about the life lessons of his fathers, please visit www.councilofdads.com.
Two years ago, I asked six friends to form a “Council of Dads” to be father figures for my three-year-old identical twin daughters. The men ranged from my oldest friend to my college roommate to my closest confidant, and I asked each of them to teach a different thing to my girls – how to live, how to think, how to travel, how to dream.
I then asked each man for the one life lesson he would convey to my girls. Their answers ranged from how to take a trip – Be a traveler, not a tourist – to how appreciate life – Harvest the everyday miracles around you – to how get up off your feet after a setback – Find a way to get over, around, or through the wall; never give in to the wall.
Their answers were so inspiring to me they compelled to write a book, The Council of Dads, gathering their wisdom in one place.
While assembling my Council, a friend told me he would put a dead person in his Council. “If people my people want to understand me,” he said, “they need to understand Thomas Jefferson.”
That got me thinking.
The greatest “Council of Dads” in history was the Founding Fathers. What advice can we learn from them?
This week, I appeared with Glenn Beck for a special show devoted to the “The Council of Founding Fathers.”
Here are the Five Lessons for Parents Today from the original “Council of Dads.”
1. GEORGE WASHINGTON
Honesty is the best policy
When he stepped down from the presidency in 1797, George Washington never actually delivered his Farewell Address. Instead, he published it as a letter to “The People of the United States.” The speech is remembered for introducing the tradition of two terms for the president, warning against party squabbling, and advising against entangling alliances. But it’s most quoted line refers to personal conduct. “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.”
2. THOMAS JEFFERSON
Question with boldness
On August 10, 1787, while in Paris, Jefferson wrote a letter to his nephew Peter Carr. He advised in favor of studying Spanish (and against Italian). He advocated reading philosophy to improve conduct. And he wrote this about religion: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
3. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
When he was 22 years old, Franklin wrote out thirteen virtues that he vowed to observe every day. He even typed up a chart and made a check besides each virtue he followed. The exercise lasted just under a month. Still, the virtues capture the essence of the American character he embodied. 1) TEMPERANCE – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2) RESOLUTION – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 3) MODERATION – Avoid extremes.
4. JOHN ADAMS
Dare to read, think, speak, and write
A decade before the Revolution, while a young lawyer in Boston, Adams wrote a series of articles about the beating heart of liberty in America. Later published as a book, the articles summoned Americans to let their minds lead them to freedom. “Let us become attentive to the grounds and principles of government ... Let us study the law of nature ... Let us tenderly and kindly cherish the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”
5. GEORGE WHITEFIELD
Fight the good fight of faith
In a sermon on Ecclesiastes called “The Folly and Danger of Not Being Righteous Enough,” George Whitefield, the great Revolutionary champion of the Great Awakening, echoed Joshua as he conquered the Promised Land. “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.”