by: David Lawson
A poetic setting for giving tribute to our dear friend Andy Sundberg might have been aboard one of the U.S. Navy destroyers sailing in the South China Sea (where he and I each found ourselves while serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam conflict), or perhaps within the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress (where he knew the ‘ins’ and ‘outs,’ as well as anyone alive), or even in a corner of the Oval Office (where Andy’s views should have been more regularly sought).  But on reflection, it is here, amongst his friends at the Auberge de Founex, with a glass of honest Vaudois wine in hand, where the most sincere and heart-felt tributes to Andy will be given!  I am honoured to be amongst the FOA’s present tonight to salute Andy and all that he stood for.
Andy had a special influence in my life as he had in the lives of so many others, as is being confirmed tonight.  In addition to his clear code of conduct and honour and his honest respect for others, he had a passion for life as well as for his home country.  Andy, through his unique and personal approach to the people he met, sowed seeds of ideas, big and little, in his every conversation.  Those seeds often found fertile soil in the hearts and minds of those who listened, and could grow into important ideas, projects, organizations or individual actions and convictions. 

As is well known, Andy’s leitmotiv in his later years was to do all possible to improve the lot of his fellow Americans, particularly but not only for those living overseas.  He had become, after so many years working on it, the “perfect American Expat” – deeply knowledgeable about his homeland and its sometimes strange ways of doing things and honestly dedicated to its image and world success.  He remained deeply caring about the successes and failures of America at home and around the world.

Andy, as an idealist, believed with all his heart in promoting truth and justice and that – given the appropriate effort at the right time and place – serious wrongs could be righted.  While seeking to build consensus where possible, he was unwilling to compromise on important points of principle.   He tackled the problems he or others were facing with the same energy and verve he used for all things in life.  As we all know from his prodigious intellectual output (including the ever-present morning “APS – Andy-grams”), Andy was consistently devoted to the helping to understand and to assure the success of the “great American experiment with democracy.”  

Although he was let down time and again by what was going on in Washington, he never, ever, gave up his spirit or his ideals.  Nor would he push aside or seek that we ignore the “jabbering of fools” who might, at the time, be attempting (or pretending) to lead the great American nation.  Rather, he constantly sought dialogue and bridge-building and solution finding.

Andy believed that honest and reasonable people, working conscientiously together could resolve any problem or set of problems.  That was one of the main supporting principles for his very substantial recent efforts to assure the success of the 2012 tour of U.S. town hall meetings around Switzerland organized by the Americans in Switzerland Working Group, which he helped to conceive and set up.  The Working Group’s Report was completed in late August 2012, with his “John Hancock” freshly attached, just days before he unexpectedly left us.

The ASWG Report and its cover letter with Andy’s name included were sent to each and every Member of Congress and to every U.S. Ambassador around the world.  While it contained important contributions of several of the Working Group members, the Report is full of Andy’s influence and sentiment and efficiency.  The subjects covered and the easy-to-read style of the Report is amongst his legacies:   to get the facts straight, to keep our priorities straight, and our conclusions and reasoning well expressed. 

In describing Andy as a person, I believe it is appropriate to refer to the concept of “Ethos,” meaning Character” in ancient Greek.  This “Character” is of the classical kind; it is of a “public and rhetorical” rather than “internal and psychological” nature.  Classical Ethos reflects how the audience views and respects the speaker.  Not just any audience, but that found in the classical Greek forum, where the members take full part in collaborating to manage the republic and assure its well-being.  In this sense, “Ethos” reflects who the person is, when speaking in public, as seen by an audience experienced in the same political ideals.[1]  Andy, as Aristotle, accepted “ethos” as a legitimate and important part of persuasion, to be accompanied when appropriate by “logos” (logic) and “pathos” (the mobilization of emotions).  Andy, in making any important point known and seeking support from his friends and from others, exemplified, at lease from my point of view, the most successful “Ethos.”

For those of us who knew Andy well, it was never just what he said or proposed that was important.  It was also who he was himself.   John Stuart Mill has put it well in stating:

“Though direct moral teaching does much, indirect does much more…. [it] does not depend solely on what he said or did with that direct object, but also, and still more, on what manner of man he was.”

Andy’s constant example and dedication to principle, accompanied by his true friendship and affection for others even those with whom he did not fully agree has helped to shape and energize a generation or more of Americans, particular those like each of us living abroad.  I am most thankful to be amongst them.

David A. Lawson, III, D.Phil (Oxon)
International Arbitrator and Attorney-at-Law, Geneva
Member of the State Bar of California/ Bar of the United States Supreme Court

[1] “A Gentleman and a Scholar,” A Tribute to Edward Lane Davis by John S. Nelson, Porio, 3, of 2 December 2004.
 


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