Thursday, March 11, 2010

All the Difference

...When Billy Tudor was admitted to the bar three years later, Adams took the time to write to Tudor's wealthy father to praise the young man for his clear head and honest heart, but also to prod the father into giving his son some help getting started in his practice. Adams had seen too often the ill effect of fathers who ignored their sons when a little help could have made all the difference.
David McCullough, John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 63.
As I transition from studying Thomas Edison to studying John Adams, one of the first traits that pops out to me is the relationship both men had with their families. Edison always seemed too busy for his family, whereas Adams seemed dedicated and infatuated with his. Edison's family had to trust & assume he loved them - Adams' family knew he did. Both of them were involved in time consuming professions (invention/business v. law/politics) and both had to travel. Yet it seemed that Edison was more concerned with how many hours he worked while Adams took the time to write letters and connect with his family. Both men were seen as a success in their lives - yet already I feel more compassion & connection with Adams.

"A little help could have made all the difference." Kids need their dad. Wives need their husband. Families need the leadership of a man. At some point, I must judge a person's contribution not on how much they poured themselves into their work & industry - but how much they cared for those most dependent upon them. As I jump into McCullough's excellent piece on Adams, I am constantly refreshed by a man who loved what he did less than he loved his family. In the end, character matters as much as contribution; and a large part of the evaluation of character comes in the context one's family life.

2 comments:

Ryan said...

just wait... you will see he is gone a LOT.

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