For my write-up today on volume 2 of Richard Nixon’s memoirs, I’ll use as my starting-point something that Nixon says on page 382. The context is Bill Rogers’ (whom I presume is this guy) advice to President Nixon that Nixon’s aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, should resign.
“I asked [Rogers] if he would convey this to Haldeman and Ehrlichman for me. He said that he did not think his relationship with them was good enough to do that—-nor even objective enough…There had been some bitterness between them after the election during the reorganization, and he was concerned that they might feel that he was bringing personal feelings to the task.”
This passage actually made me feel better, to tell you the truth! The reason is that I have bitterness towards others, and there are people who don’t particularly like me. This passage reminded me that this is the case with a lot of people: that even people who are socially-competent have personality conflicts, for a variety of reasons.
I suppose that I could put on a Christian mantel and criticize Bill Rogers for being enemies with anyone. After all, aren’t we commanded to love everyone, to be at peace with everyone? If we were truly Christ-like, would not people be drawn to us? Wouldn’t we get along with everyone? Well, not necessarily, for it’s often said in the New Testament that Christians will have conflict with people, not because Christians are seeking it out, but rather because people may not like what the Christians are doing and saying! But I don’t want to get bogged down in that topic!
Rather, what I want to say is that I admire how Bill Rogers handled this situation. Sure, he was not perfect, for he had a bitter relationship with Haldeman and Ehrlichman. But he did not allow his bitterness to be the determining factor in how he would act in a given situation. He could have marched right over to Haldeman and Ehrlichman, told them that the President wanted them to resign, and gloated, getting satisfaction out of the fall of his enemies. But he didn’t do that. Rogers could step back, take a fairly objective look at the situation, and conclude that he was not the right person to approach Haldeman and Ehrlichman, that he could make matters worse were he to do so.
I think that it is good to overcome bitterness, and it’s even better to be friends with everyone. But things don’t always work out that way. In such cases, perhaps we can acknowledge our bitterness, while also refusing to let our bitterness rule our actions. Rogers, for example, put other people’s good above his own bitterness.