Inspiration from the West Wing, Highway to Heaven, and John Adams

My blog posts this week have been rather perfunctory, largely because I’m tired when I come home from work!  But, believe it or not, I have been inspired by some things this week.  Here are three things that I saw on television that inspired me:

1.  Yesterday, I watched the first two episodes of The West Wing: Season 2.  President Bartlett has been shot, and the members of his staff look back at how they joined his campaign.

Josh Lyman was working on the Presidential campaign of Democrat John Hoynes, who was the frontrunner in the primaries.  Josh was disappointed because Hoynes didn’t have much of an agenda for the good of others: Hoynes was primarily interested in Hoynes, and Hoynes looking good.  But Leo McGarry invited Josh to listen to the little-known and highly-intellectual candidate, Democratic Governor Jed Bartlett of New Hampshire.  Josh was initially bored with Bartlett’s complex description of economics, but something got his attention: when Bartlett was asked why he, as a Congressman, voted against a milk program that would have helped dairy farmers, Bartlett responded, “Yeah, I really screwed you guys on that one.”  But Bartlett went on to say that he voted the way that he did so that poor families could have cheaper milk, and, if the dairy farmers didn’t like that, then they should vote for somebody else.  Josh then realized that Bartlett was a man who stood by principle.

Josh’s friend, Sam Seaborn, was a lawyer for the oil companies.  Sam wanted to make a positive difference in the world, but he wondered if his job was the place to do so.  When he tried to push his firm to purchase ships that were friendlier to the environment, his colleagues pooh-poohed his suggestion.  That’s when Josh signaled to Sam through the window that Bartlett was the real thing.  Sam then left his firm to join the Bartlett campaign.

Toby Ziegler was a loser.  He managed all sorts of campaigns, and all of them turned out unsuccessfully.  Now, he was on the Bartlett campaign.

C.J. Cregg’s job was to help Hollywood big-shots to succeed.  She made over $500,000 a year doing that!  But she was tired of handling petty egos and advancing bad movies.  Then, Toby Ziegler came along and offered her a place in the Bartlett campaign.  He told her that she would make less money than her current salary.  But here was an opportunity to do something that mattered.

Bartlett was kind of a loser at that time—notwithstanding his impressive academic credentials—and he was reluctant to take advice from people he didn’t even know.  But he had a heart of gold.  After he won a primary, he learned that Josh Lyman’s father had passed away.  Bartlett went to the airport and talked with Josh, offering to take the flight with him to keep him company, even though Bartlett had a speech to give. 

I like this episode because it’s about people’s desire for a purpose.  Many of the characters on these episodes were successful in their vocations, but they didn’t feel that they were accomplishing anything meaningful.  This episode reminds me of the disciples leaving everything behind to follow Jesus.  They had their lives and their agendas, but perhaps they didn’t feel that they were going anywhere.  Jesus offered them an opportunity to do something that mattered.  And he had a heart of gold! 

2.  I watched the Highway to Heaven: Season 2 episode, “Alone”, starring John Franklin of Children of the Corn fame.   Franklin plays a developmentally-delayed boy named Arnie, who lives on the streets.  Jonathan the angel and his sidekick, Mark, realize that Arnie is special, and needs special people to raise him.  The people whom God wants to raise Arnie are a bitter rancher whose wife left him, and the leaving wife.  Mark asks Jonathan, “Are you sure these are the right people?”  And Jonathan replies, “I’m not sure, but the Boss is.”  “The Boss” refers to God.

There are people who have potential, even if they make not look like it. 

3.  A few days ago, I watched the end of the John Adams miniseries.  John Adams disowned his son, Charles, an alcoholic who lost money in bad business decisions.  When Charles died, Abigail really took that hard.  She remarked that Charles was never anyone’s enemy, and was the delight of her heart.  That’s pretty telling.  Charles may have had his faults, but he was never anyone’s enemy.  He didn’t try to undermine other people.  I hope that others can say that about me, whatever my faults may be.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Highway to Heaven, Michael Landon, Television, West Wing. Bookmark the permalink.