Though I enjoy reading, I've never been a fan of biographies. But I read Ben Franklin and John Adam's back to back (on purpose). The John Adams biography most recently brought to life by HBO. The surprise of those proximate readings was my enjoyment of the Adams book over that of Franklin--not the writing, but rather the person.
Whenever we think that times have changed, people have changed and circumstances have change we need only pick up a book and be reminded that human DNA and the human theater remain intact--only the largeness of the theater and the sophistication of the props have changed. Our politicians and business men are no more flawed now than they were then. And if you think otherwise, I would tell you gently over your favorite beverage of choice that you were never a serious student of history or your powers of discernment are blunted by your own bias. But then, it would be that ole' DNA thing engaging again.
I am reminded that in business processes, a great process can achieve great results with average people. It's something that always stuck in my head in reading Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline. In fact it was this book, which introduces the concept of "learning organizations", that greatly shaped my view of organizations. A poor process means you need extraordinary people and extraordinary processes. You can read a good overview here.
What is brilliant about our system of government is that for all of its warts, it is a process in which average people can do great things such as make laws, mete out justice, pay and provide for services, etc. I'm still happy to have the phrase: "Step into the conflict and reconcile". It ought to be the mantra of every person who desires to hold excellent outcomes over petty differences. If I were running for President, that would be my slogan.
Enjoy your holiday if you are in the US. Today is a good day to reflect on the quality of our own citizenship activities. My experience is that most people spend more typing griping about the process than becoming part of or working on behalf of positive change the process. And picking up John Adam's biography would be a wonderful way to read about a person's whose example you could model. For myself, I don't spend much if any time griping. I also don't spend anytime becoming part of the solution. I'll reflect on that and see if I cannot come up with something. At the very least, I will write my representatives and request of them to "step into the conflict and reconcile."