Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Steady Course

In turbulent, dangerous times he [John Adams] had held to a remarkably steady course. He had shown that a strong defense and a desire for peace were not mutually exclusive, but compatible and greatly in the national interest. The new navy was an outstanding achievement...In his four years as President, there had been no scandal or corruption...he had managed nonetheless to cope with a divided country and a divided party, and in the end achieved a rare level of statesmanship. To his everlasting credit, at the risk of his career, reputation, and his hold on the presidency, he chose to not go to war, when that would have been highly popular and politically advantageous in the short run.
David McCullough, John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 566.
A steady course. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Adams was his ability to maintain that steady course despite the odds against it. In an era of strong leaders each trying to have their pull and control - Adams continued the path he believed to be right. It cost him friendships, position, and leadership clout in the young United States. However, in the end that commitment to hold steady proved to be the most honorable course of action.

I think this is the most difficult choice we must make as people. We must choose to hold strong to a path and not sway to the right or left. Often when faced with difficulty or opportunity, the tendency is move off one's position. In a desire to not seem stubborn, we often cave in on the values and beliefs we hold to be critical. In reality our problem is that of weakness. Whether a desire to please others or a push for more influence or even the want to stay in power - we sacrifice our honor by losing course. We may gain temporarily in this, but in the end have we lost our souls when we allow ourselves off the path? What sacrifices are not worth it to hold to the steady course? In other words, what temporary benefits are you willing to accept at the cost of your beliefs & honor? Adams sacrificed himself & his standing but in the end his virtue, integrity, and beliefs remained intact.