Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism
Lesson No. Eleven
George Washington, Honesty, and Ordered Liberty
Introduction – When the Nephites were righteous they appointed leaders who “had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy.” As a result “there was great order in the land; and they had formed their laws according to equity and justice” (3 Nephi 3:19; 6:4). Our Founders, being God fearing men, also had the spirit of revelation and prophecy
George Washington – George Washington was the preeminent Founder and leader. Washington was one of the great men of this dispensation. He played an essential role in the restoration. Washington’s greatest and most lasting contribution was his example in establishing what is called “ordered liberty." Ordered liberty requires that citizens be honest. The opposite of ordered liberty is dishonesty and confusion. Washington was known for his honesty. He understood the importance of his example in developing national integrity. He said: “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn unto precedent.”
As the Revolutionary War wound down the monarchies in Europe fully expected he would establish himself as king. For thousands of years this was always the result of revolutions. General Washington was honest to the military commission given him by Congress, and he retired quietly to Mt Vernon. An important result of Washington’s example is that our military has always been subordinate to civilian authority.
Another extraordinary result of President Washington’s example is that after serving two terms, and while still very popular, he decided to retire. Presidential power was transferred peacefully, and has continued to do so. This has blessed our country.
Ordered Liberty is consistent with the commandments of God – The Founders believed that liberty must be ordered and consistent with the “law of nature and nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence). In his Farewell Address Washington said: "...Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality (honesty) are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens."
Honesty – I believe, as did Washington, that ordered liberty requires honesty. "We believe in being honest..." (Thirteenth Article of Faith). Our civilization rests on people being honest. Integrity is an indispensable element in every worthwhile human endeavor. Conversely, dishonesty is the threshold sin and is the root cause of all human failings.
As modern day patriots, who recognize the hand of the Lord in the affairs of men and nations, we must be honest in all that we do. The importance of honesty in our individual lives and in our national character cannot be overstated. It is essential that the people of our country believe in the importance of honesty, and that they recognize and support people for public office who are honest.
Like Washington we can be examples of honest without being preachy. Washington is remembered and honored for his honesty. Our integrity can be our legacy also.