Abigail Adams – Great Character Come From Great Necessities and Hardship
There are some today who are down on America because of the present difficult conditions in our country. They believe that life in America should always be easy and prosperous, and when things get tough, they want to complain.
But those who believe that the history of America has always been a soft bed of roses and that most all before us have had an easy road – these folks are sorely mistaken. In fact, to the contrary – studies of our U.S. history show quite clear the substantial difficulties and hardships we have faced in our nation, and have overcome.
But, here’s the question – what part does each of us play today? What part must each of us play today to help keep America great? And is it all just about getting up every day and going to work? Actually no – the greatness of America or any nation is not just about work or vocation – it’s more about this ideal of virtue. Now that’s certainly not a word we hear much today, but our founding fathers believed that virtue in our America was a necessity for our success as a nation.
But just what is virtue? According to Webster’s Dictionary, virtue is the “characteristic of promoting the collective well-being of society; and that our virtues actually originate from our inner most thoughts and desires.” Simply said, to successfully function in this world today, each individual must have a deeply rooted core of underlying values that drive and direct who we are.
And here’s the interesting part of virtue – our virtues are most often not tried or tested during easy times in our lives. In fact, it is actually quite the opposite.
I recently came across the writings of Abigail Adams, the wife of our second U.S. President, John Adams, and one of her quotes certainly caught my attention. Regarding virtue, Abigail Adams said this:
“It is not in the calm still of life that great characters are formed – it is the great necessities of life that call out great virtues.”
Abigail Adams wrote these words over 200 years ago when people spoke a little differently, so her words may be a little hard to follow, but in our own way of speaking today, this is what Mrs. Adams was saying:
“When life is easy; when you are safe and peaceful and secure in your circumstance; that is not the place where great character is formed. It is only during times of great hardship and difficulty that you grow in character and learn who you truly are inside.”
And, believe me, Abigail Adams knew much about hardship and difficulty and challenge, so she was speaking from a position of authority,
The message here? Let us work hard, let us strive to grow and prosper in our work; but let us realize that our greatness is not in our labor or our economy or our vocation; our strength as a person, as a nation, is in our ideals, our character, our virtues. And great virtues come from circumstances of great necessity. Therefore, let us see hardship not as a wall to block us from moving forward, but as a series of steps in a stairway to take us to a higher level in our lives.
And this is my prayer today for our America – that our present hardships as a nation, as a people – that they make us a better people – the great and good America that we should be.
Don’t Stop Praying!
About Jerry Stewart
I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us. To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old. So, here’s where the stories have taken me. In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State. Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.
“The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated because our deeply rooted faith will sustain us”.
Plaque at the Oklahoma City Bomb Site
“You cannot lift your children to a higher level than that on which you live yourself.”
“Never let yourself be persuaded that any one great man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America; when America consists of one leader and 250 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
President Dwight Eisenhower
“Son, remember that God is your only sure trust.”
George Washington’s Mother
“America is great because America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.”
French Philosopher, Alexis De Tocqueville 1840
“The philosophy of our school room in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”
“Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. For tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
George Washington (Written as a Boy)
“Many men fail because they quit too soon. They lose faith when the signs are against them. They do not have the courage to hold on, to keep fighting in spite of that which seems insurmountable. If more of us would strike out and attempt the impossible, we very soon would find the truth of that old saying – nothing is impossible”.
Doctor C.E. Welch, Founder of Welch's Grape Juice
“What we obtain for too cheap a price, we esteem too lightly.”
“I regret i have but one life to lose for my country.”
Nathan Hale, just before he was hanged by the British army
“Duty, honor, country. These three hallowed words reverently dictate what a soldier ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are the soldier’s rallying post to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when all hope is gone. Duty…honor…country.”