I have just finished reading John Adams by David McCullough.
What an amazing read!
Though I do enjoy history, I do not care for politics. David
McCullough did a masterful job of weaving Adams’ biography with the detailed
politics of the early United States. It was a compelling narrative that kept me
engaged to the very end.
The author leads us through John Adams’ studies to become a
lawyer, his early law practice, both the Continental Congress sessions, his
time oversees as an ambassador, his vice-presidency, his presidency and his
retirement. Adams’ personal diary and his thousands of letters give us great
insight into not only what he did, but how he thought and how he felt. It was
John Adams was a major player in the building of our
nation. He was incredibly intelligent while still maintaining his personal
integrity. His thorough understanding of world politics, philosophy and human
nature were paramount in his adamant stand for America’s independence and
continued strength. He worked tirelessly to build the ground work for our
“I fear that in every elected office, members will obtain an
influence by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not
learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls… There must be decency and
respect.” John Adams
“He who loves the Workman and His work, and does what he can
to preserve and improve it, shall be accepted of Him.” John Adams
“The longer I live,
the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire,
the less I seem to know…. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
has been unusually busy, but it has also been extraordinarily rewarding.
Last summer a fledgling library was started in my rural community. We squished a
few donated book shelves into a small store on main street. The store owners
graciously allowed us to use their store, and we began accepting used books of
every kind. This tiny town had never had, in its entire history, a library. The
county library is 30 miles away for some of our residents, not convenient enough
to make use of. Books poured in. Fiction filled half our space, but we also had
sections for history, travel (if outdated tour books of Mexico count), pets,
and of coarse self-help. A few people wandered in occasionally. More books were
sent our way. And more books. And more.
It became obvious
that we needed more space – and more patrons. We launched a community meeting
and began looking at empty spaces around town. In our one traffic light town of
1,200 residents, there were not many options. We quickly ran into the ever-present
wall: no money. The great thing about a small community is that everyone talks
to everyone. News travels faster than a speeding bullet. We simply mentioned to
a few people that we needed non-profit status and to begin fundraising. The
very next day we were told that we had non-profit status under a community services
non-profit in town. Someone had told the president, the president had sent out
an email, all members voted in the affirmative by email, and it was done. They
had become our umbrella.
our eyes and shook our head. “Wait! We aren’t ready.” It doesn’t matter. It was
a done deal. Then the money began pouring in. People would stop by and hand us
$100. “You are doing a great thing here!” they would say. And the books poured
went by in the arduous task of looking for – and agreeing on – the new
location. Though I hated the process of heated debate, the needed evaluation
and discussion were very valuable. It was also a huge turning point for us. We
went from a tiny store corner to our very own building. We also had to look
into the face of a monthly commitment to paying rent and utilities. That was
scary! We are just a tiny group of people in a tiny town. Many times, someone
in the group would say, “We don’t have to move. Let’s stay here. We don’t have
the money.” And it was true, we didn’t have the money. We only had a vision of
what could be.
civic club handed us a check for $5,000. We put on a fundraising dinner and
earned another $1,000. We were off!
was June 1. People came out of the woodwork to pack and move boxes of books.
There we were, standing in a large open room – with only a couple of tiny mismatched
bookcases. Now what were we going to do?
president of the board stepped up and said he would build them. He designed,
built, stained and clear coated each bookcase. We were all amazed! As soon as
he set a finished bookcase in the new library, we would fill it with books.
More books poured in. One trailer brought 30 boxes! We now have over 6,000
linear feet of book shelf space and we are still building.
library is still a work in progress, last Saturday we were overflowing with
visitors. A local celebration brought many people to town, and they all had to
come and see their new library. Little ones found cute board books, pre-teens
found chapter books, grandmothers found new fiction to read and the history
buffs had more than a myriad of titles to choose from. The library’s copier,
computers and internet access now give low income residents a place to connect
with the world for no cost. Anyone can now walk in the door and engage their
love of reading. Where there was once nothing, now there is a warm hub of
friendship that links us with literacy.
And the best part of it all? When we volunteers are long gone, new generations will walk in this door and take a book off the shelf.
How have you invested in your community? What do communities need more of these days?