I am reading through Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant. Chernow never disappoints me. I have read his biographies of Washington and Hamilton. His Grant is well worth slogging through over 900 pages.

With the current hysteria about how bad things are in Washington and the nation, how divided we are, and how uncivil we have become, the necessary corrective is to read biography and history. If you think things are worse now then you need to read nineteenth century American history.

The Civil War and its aftermath was, quite frankly, horrible for everybody. If you think that we have become more racist, you need to read the comments of politicians and pundits of the second half of the nineteenth century. If you think that government is more partisan and politics is paralyzed then see what happens when Clausewitz’s maxim is fulfilled by headstrong ideologues: War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.

If you think the police are prejudiced then read what happened to minorities in the North and the South.

We all need to take a refresher course in American history and lay aside our self-righteous prejudices which assume that we have not made any progress in our government and justice system.

From the beginning of time there has always been conflict, injustice, corruption, the misuse of power, violence. The Bible speaks to it and God condemns it. Jesus excoriated the political and religious leaders of his day.

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others to will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. (Matthew 23:33-36)

Every generation has its own challenges to face. We need the patience and wisdom of the ages, and the gospel of Jesus, to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. This requires the truth of the prophet Micah 6:8.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”