"In planning your window to include the big picture," it was suggested back in 1965, "don’t forget the frame. It’s almost as much a part of the picture as the view." Hence "there's an old saying that you can't see the forest for the trees sometimes."
Focussing on the God of the big picture to learn from his teaching, a senior pastor from the Presbyterian Church in America told congregation in 1987, "Sometimes the big picture escapes my gaze. Caught in the midst of important, sometimes split-second, decisions at work or at home, I can lose the perspective that I need to make the best decision for the long haul. It is at times like that that I am thankful for my relationship with God. I know that He not only has the big picture in clear view, He in fact is the architect of it. I know also that it is His loving intention to guide me through the complexities of life into that which is the very best for me. Perhaps you, like me, are in need of the broader perspective necessary to live effectively in a complex world."
On reflection, one sports writer made the observation in 1993, "Sometimes you just need to stop and take a look at the big picture. It seems that after a while, life becomes nothing but X’s and O’s, and wins and losses for those of us who make our living in sports. However, we need to remember that no matter how important these games seem to us, to the players, and to the fans, they are after all, only games. Little diversions from the real world."
1999 marked the bicentennial of George Washington's death. Gary Rhodes of 'The Free Lance-Star' noted, "Revolutionary War Commander General George Washington's win-loss record of 2-5 in the critical battles between 1776 and 1778 was nothing to boast about. Washington didn't always have a perfect grasp of the small picture in front of him. His vision was almost superhuman, however, when it was the big picture he was trying to fathom. That big-picture understanding is what led Washington to march his army through Philadelphia at exactly the right time. It's what spurred him to follow up the publication of Thomas Paine's pamphlet 'The Crisis' with his daring, Christmas Day action at Trenton."
Historian Paul Johnson wrote in his book, 'History of the American People', "He was no great field Commander. He fought in all 9 general actions and lost all but 3 of them. But he was a strategist. He realized that his supreme task was to train an army, keep it in the field, supply it and pay it. By doing so, he enabled all 13 state governments, plus Congress, to remain functioning. And so to constitute a nation, which measured rapidly during the 8 years of conflict (between 1775 and 1783). (The British) were up against an embodied nation, and in the end the point sank home. It was Washington who enabled all this to happen. He gave the war, on the American side, a dignity which even his opponents recognized. He did nothing common, or mean, or cruel, or vengeful. He behaved, from first to last, like a gentleman."
Richard Brookhiser wrote in 'Founding Father', "The purpose of generalship is to win wars. A successful General does not have to be the best General in the world. All he has to be – or if he is not so already, all he has to become – is better than the Generals he faces." Gary Rhodes continued, "The British called Washington 'the fox'. Washington's unfailing big-picture vision during the Revolutionary War developed naturally from his earlier service in government and the military. As a young man, Washington undertook the sensitive mission of kindly asking the French to vacate the Ohio River Valley and environs so the coast-bound colonists could enjoy a little breathing room. This, the equally imperialistic French refused to do. Washington, of course, anticipated their refusal.
"Displaying an appreciation for good military intelligence even then, he made meticulous drawings of French fortifications in western Pennsylvania. Washington returned to this over-the-mountains wilderness later with a small force to let the French know that Virginia meant business. His party shot up a band of Frenchmen who may, or may not, have been on a diplomatic mission. Washington judged their purposes to be contrary to British-American interests, setting off a world war (*) that ultimately gave rise to the first British Empire.
(*) The Seven Years War took place between 1755 and 1763
"It was in the wilderness fighting that followed that Washington established his reputation for bravery and seeming indestructibility. His stand with British General Edward Braddock against a murderous French-and-Indian ambush near present-day Pittsburgh was as heroic as any in American history. The British recouped from this loss to win the war and numerous worldwide possessions from the vanquished French. Washington and his country's reward for helping was a bill for the war. The British felt going Dutch, retroactively, was only fair, since Americans now had their breathing room. So they passed on part of the cost in the form of taxation without representation."
In 1986, 'The Washington Post' published tape recording of Richard Nixon's meeting with Republican Governors in New Jersey that year. At the meeting, Richard Nixon made the point, "It (the Iran-Contra Affair) is not going to be another Watergate, as long as you stay ahead of the curve . . . You gotta look at President Reagan and what he is like . . . Unlike (Jimmy) Carter, who became enmeshed in details, President Reagan is a big-picture man. He believes in deciding big issues and then delegating to subordinates the carrying out of these things. He doesn't get involved in details. Now, that has been his strength.
"President Reagan made decisions about goals. He decided it was important to develop a better relationship with groups in Iran who would be less anti-American. He decided it was important to do anything we could to get our hostages back (the 1979 Iran-U.S. Hostage Crisis). He decided also to try to get aid to the (Nicaraguan) Contras at a time when Congress was denying (it). These were his 3 decisions. You may disagree with them, but that's what he did, and as President that's his right and responsibility.
"The execution of those decisions was something else. What happened there – and (Robert) Bud McFarlane took responsibility for it – is they screwed it up. Because they mixed up the first 2, it became an arms-for-hostage deal, and that was wrong. President Reagan said that in his radio speech. And in the other area, you had (Lieutenant) Colonel (Oliver) North and some others skimming some money off and giving it to the Contras. That was illegal, apparently. But President Reagan didn't know that. I know because he just wasn't involved in details. He has told me so. I believe him . . .
"Now, let me close with this. Don't, don't, weaken the man. And don't let Republicans go on with their favorite sport of cannibalism. Let's not weaken the man for his last 2 years (1987 and 1988) in dealing with the big subject. It's a great big circus. Rather than look at the sideshows, let's look at the main ring. (At the time) that is Soviet-American relations. Let's get back to that."