Since his passing, John McCain has continued to make news. Some applaud him, others scourage his legacy. In any case, with a person of such high profile and huge character, it seems that it might pay to examine what we might learn from McCain, his choices and how he lived. Naturally, this is a brief, summary of those points (this is only a blog after all, not a book).
He matured: After being a screw up through school and his early military training, he matured and gained a goal and vision for himself to be a Navy pilot. Once fueled by a taste of accomplishment, he never looked back.
He developed selfless courage: As a POW for over a year during the Vietnam War, he was offered the opportunity to be released. His captures learned about his family heritage (McCain’s father and grandfather were both Navy admirals) so McCain could be used as a major bargaining chip. John would not allow it. He told his captures that he will leave only when his follow prisoners are released. This position extended his stay as a POW another four years during which he was beaten and tortured.
He was humble: McCain was humble to the point of being self deprecating at times. He continually referred to himself and his work as being “imperfect”
He served: John McCain spent most of his adult life in service to others and his country.
He stood up for what he believed in: Whether one agrees with his politics or position on the matter, his “thumbs down” on repealing the Affordable Health Care Act bucked his party’s position and forever branded him as a maverick.
He didn’t hold a grudge: The two men that stood in his way of fulfilling his dream of becoming the POTUS were Barack Obama and George W. Bush and both were selected by McCain to speak as his funeral.
In no way do I idolize McCain or hold him up for more than he was – a man who served imperfectly (as he would say). He was controversial to the point that others from his own political party claim he was actually working for the other side. He was ambitious, which is difficult to do and not make a few enemies. He has a past of which he’s not proud, at least of all of it.
Nevertheless, as one that spent most of his life in the eye of the public, not easily done, we have the opportunity to learn lessons for ourselves which we can apply and become better than we were through others’ experience. Even with his faults, John McCain lived a life from which we can all learn something, and hopefully we become more mature, humble, other centered, courageous for important causes and forgiving.
If we examine McCain’s life and take this from it, I think he would agree we’d have done well.