767. A Presidential Model

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There’s a scene at the beginning of episode 6, season 3, of the television series “West Wing,” in which President Bartlet and his wife, Abbey, are bantering about their morning at church as they walk down the West Wing Colonnade. The day’s text was from Ephesians and back and forth they go on the handling of it in the sermon. I only recently started watching this show on Netflix, 20 years after it first launched on NBC, and am finding something noteworthy nearly every time I turn it on. President Bartlet ends their discussion by, rather heatedly, pointing to and expounding on verse 21 of chapter 5: “Be subject to one another.” But then a number of his team arrive and bad news descends and the mood shifts. Even so, as Bartlet and his chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, turn toward each other to talk, Bartlet, in a calm and gentle tone, starts their conversation with, “Be subject to each other, Leo. What can I do to be subject to you?” Imagine what could happen if each of us at least thought that, didn’t even say it, when we were at work each day no matter our status above or below those around us? What can I do to be subject to you?

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[Photo: taken of an outside wall at the Peter Engel Science Center at St. John’s University.]