May 11th, 2011 07:30 EST
Only Time Could Tell: Liberty Will Reign in America!
Liberty will reign in America! " John Adams shouts out these words in the eponymous miniseries based on David McCullough`s Pulitzer Prize winning novel about the life and times of America`s 2nd President. The show deservedly won Emmys for Best Miniseries, Best Actor, and Best Actress. I didn`t watch it when it first aired in 2008, but I wish I had. I watched it for the first time two weeks ago and was absolutely blown away by how much information I learned about someone who I had never really known about beforehand. It`s important for people to know their history and learn from it. And since knowing one`s history is important, it`s interesting that certain parallels with today`s America can be drawn when taking a look at this show.
At some point in the miniseries, John Adams is in France seeking financial aid so that America can continue the war with England. Benjamin Franklin is there as well, but it seems he would rather cavort with his French mistresses than urgently seek help. What`s amazing about this part of the series is that he comes across as a pure American. The way he acts and some of the things he says could easily be applied to Americans today. For example, instead of trying to "seduce" the leaders of France, as Ben Franklin would have him do, he demands that the French help America right then. Time is of the essence, and in this case time is also money. How many people living in America today can empathize with that thought?
However, the part that really stands out during his time in France is his reaction to an old French woman`s queries. She asks him who his favorite musicians are and if he can play music. Adams bluntly tells her "I have no time for music because I spend all my time trying to secure liberty for my nation. I do this so that my children can help build that nation and then maybe my grandchildren can enjoy music and other arts." This very speech of his defines Adams` character perfectly. He was one of the most hard working American men who ever lived, and he could have taught some of today`s youngsters a thing or two about the dangers of being idle.
Another interesting parallel is one with a modern day President. In the years that he spent fighting for the liberty of this country and helping build it by being Vice President and President, it seems that he was a very misunderstood man. While Vice President, he made sure a treaty with England went through so that America wouldn`t have to go to war. While President, when people wanted him to go to war with France and he chose to keep America neutral, everyone else felt like saying "Off with his head!"
People now realize that he was only trying to preserve peace for America since it was still a fledgling country. If this country had gone to war when it was still trying to lay down the foundations, it would have been torn apart.
Adams knew this and even said at the time that history will judge him in the right way, even if he wasn`t being judged the right way at the time. Oh posterity, you will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it, for if you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it, " he says towards the end of his life in the show.
This is very similar to George W. Bush. There are many people who think Bush was the worst President of all time and think he made some terrible decisions, like going to war with Iraq. However, it is entirely possible that two hundred years from now Americans will look back and think of him as one of the greatest Presidents ever. And just like Adams, he was part of a political family. Another intriguing comparison between the two is that Bush was also sandwiched between two Presidents who, at first glance, tend to be more loved than he is.
One more major parallel deals with Adams` views about life at the end of his own. For most of his life he was so consumed with work and making sure that the country didn`t fall apart, that he never really took his wife Abigail`s advice and stopped to smell the roses. When he`s old and decrepit, walking around with a staff, he even says I have seen a queen of France with 18 million livres of diamonds on her person, but I declare that "did not impress me as much as that little shrub right there. Now your mother always said that I never delighted enough in the mundane, but now I find that if I look at even the smallest thing my imagination begins to roam the milky way!
"How many Americans today are so consumed with work and being wired in " that they never really pause to admire nature or take a deep breath of fresh air? Apparently the advice of Abigail Adams stands the test of time.
I was so mesmerized by this miniseries that I immediately wanted to watch more of the same quality, about every President. Unfortunately they don`t really have shows like this about every President. Considering that many history classes tend to bore people and turn them off history, perhaps making more of these shows about past Presidents will turn them on to history.