The Buck Stops Here

President Harry S. Truman

There is a saying “the buck stops here,” which means that an individual takes responsibility for things that happen under his area of supervision. It is the opposite of “pass the buck,” which means passing the responsibility on to someone else. President Harry Truman had that saying inscribed on a plaque that sat on his desk in the White House. He was a man of courage and honor. He is the U.S. president who recognized the new state of Israel in 1948 when many powerful people in government were strongly advising him not to do so for pragmatic reasons (e.g., the Muslim oil cartel). He was the president who made the extremely difficult and widely criticized decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan in an attempt to shorten the war. He said, “I made that decision in the conviction it would save hundreds of thousands of lives–Japanese as well as American.” He was the president that raised Europe up from the devastation of war by the Marshall plan, saved west Berlin from starving by the Berlin airlift, kept the communists from capturing South Korea, and other historic accomplishments. In his farewell address to the American people in January 15, 1953, he said, “The greatest part of the President’s job is to make decisions–big ones and small ones, dozens of them almost every day. The papers may circulate around the Government for a while but they finally reach this desk. And then, there’s no place else for them to go. The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job..” Only an honest man will accept responsibility. Others will always try to shift blame. It is part of the fallen nature. As soon as they sinned, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Genuine biblical confession of sin is to judge oneself and to refuse to blame someone or something else.

(Friday Church News Notes, February 18, 2022,,, 866-295-4143)