Friday, July 01, 2005

Not in the Still Calm of Life

I try to encourage young people to join the military whenever the opportunity presents itself, and if they express concern about the danger involved, I have taken to forwarding the following passage to them:

These are the times in which genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.

That was written by Abigail Adams (our youngest daughter was named after her) to her son John Quincy (the future president). As a young man he had suffered a tough cross-Atlantic voyage and had done some complaining about it, so she bucked him up. Reading her words bucks me up too.