He was President of the United States when Charlie flirted with Angels, Starsky tore around with Hutch, and Steve Austin cost $6million ($33million in today’s bionics). He’s mostly remembered for peanuts, hostages and petrol queues, but the lens of history can be a seriously dispersive prism. Jimmy Carter actually did quite a lot of good – he won the Nobel Peace Prize in the days when it was awarded to people who actually made peace in the world – but it’s probably fair to say that Number 39 has achieved more out of office than he did within (which might have something to do with the fact that, at the age of 93, he is still living the longest post-presidency in US history).
There is a wonderful piece about him in the Washington Post which radiates his humility and kindness. Actually, it does more than that; much more. It shines a light in the world and witnesses to the peace that passes understanding. Here is Jimmy Carter doing what former politicians simply do not do: eating off paper plates, drinking cheap chardonnay, mixing with ordinary people, and teaching in his local Baptist Sunday School. He doesn’t live in an 82,000 square-foot mansion or fly the skies in private jets. He doesn’t own a suite of offices in DC or charge audiences $400,000 a speech. “The Democratic former president decided not to join corporate boards or give speeches for big money because, he says, he didn’t want to ‘capitalize financially on being in the White House’. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that Gerald Ford, Carter’s predecessor and close friend, was the first to fully take advantage of those high-paid post-presidential opportunities, but that ‘Carter did the opposite’.”
“It just never had been my ambition to be rich,” he said. So, out of office, he returned to live the house he lived in before he entered politics – “a two-bedroom rancher assessed at $167,000”. He costs US taxpayers less than any other ex-president ($456,000, compared to Clinton, GW Bush and Obama, all in excess of $1million each per annum). He is recovering from cancer (“perfectly at ease with whatever comes”) and is driven by justice and compassion:
Carter has used his post-presidency to support human rights, global health programs and fair elections worldwide through his Carter Center, based in Atlanta. He has helped renovate 4,300 homes in 14 countries for Habitat for Humanity, and with his own hammer and tool belt, he will be working on homes for low-income people in Indiana later this month.
Jimmy Carter is a soul of kindness and grace:
As they cross Walters Street, Carter sees a couple of teenagers on the sidewalk across the street.
“Hello,” says the former president, with the same big smile that adorns peanut Christmas ornaments in the general store.
“Hey,” says a girl in a jean skirt, greeting him with a cheerful wave.
The two 15-year-olds say people in Plains think of the Carters as neighbors and friends, just like anybody else.
His report in the world is glowing: “a nice guy… a regular person… a good ’ol Southern gentleman… unpretentious and frugal… no-frills sensibility… a heart of service… humble… modest.” And then you read the tributes in the chat thread beneath: there is no abuse, no cynicism, no bile or guile as is customarily addressed to politicians:
god bless them, and may they make it to their 75th wedding anniversary. the world is better with them having lived in it.
One thing you can say about Jimmy Carter, he always strove to be a president who represented everyone, not just his party.
After reading this whole article, I can see why my dad, Edward Snyder, was so fond of Mr. Carter. They seem alot alike in their humble values. It’s a fresh breath from today’s world!
Thank you for your service, Mr. President!!
Yes it’s true, you can be a good man and a bad President.
Jimmy Carter is a past president who makes you proud to be an American.
President Carter is clearly happy and at peace. It is so well deserved because he is a good man and has served our country and the world faithfully for over nine decades and still doing what he can now in this interview.
A humble, honest, hard-working, generous soul, uninterested in earning huge sums of money…
No-one wishing him dead; no-one telling him to rot in hell; no-one chewed up by bitterness and partisan loathing. Jimmy Carter unifies and reconciles; he feeds the poor, houses the homeless and makes peace. He radiates true faith built on a secure foundation, determined to preach by actions more than words. His is a life manifestly directed by God, attracting others to the benefits of the gospel by his warm comfort and spiritual affection; by his obvious joy and hope for the future.
In a world of ‘me, me, me’ and ‘get, get, get’, infected with a debased political narrative of doubt, despair and disgrace, how refreshing it is to be reminded that all politicians are not the self-loving same, and that one or two elevate the human spirit with sweet declarations of love and eternal blessing – enlightening, sanctifying, promising nothing but faithfulness, honesty and a divine sense of gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
The saint has seen the glory of God, and his heart is captivated. What a witness for Christ Jimmy Carter is. God bless him.