The Heart of Courage: Abigail Adams’ Advice
We have a women’s restroom at the Broom Factory even though no women work here. Why? Partly because it’s the law, but also because we know that ladies will show up, and when they do, they need proper respect. Abigail Adams deserves respect not only because it’s due all people, but also because she was a tireless do-er of good deeds. Her husband was also one heck of a Skipper.
When Abigail and John’s son, John Quincy (later a president and strong abolitionist), was 11, he sailed to France to be with his dad. His mother had some strong words for him. You can see the whole letter here, but this is the relevant bit for today:
I had much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or any untimely death crop you in your infant years, rather than see you an immoral profligate or a graceless child.
Easy now, Abby! You’d rather your kid was dead than base?
Well, the Adamses had another son who most would consider immoral and profligate—due in part perhaps to John’s constantly being involved in creating the new nation instead of watching over his children—who would later kill himself. Abigail’s grief at that later date belies her earnestness in this letter.
However, she is writing with sincerity. She considers virtue greater than survival. This may be the very heart of courage. This is the soldier who leaps on the grenade to protect his mates. This is the starving father who scrapes food from his plate to his child’s. And it’s central to skipping.
VIRTUE > SURVIVAL
If you’re focused on survival, you’ll go with the flow, trying to fit in, even if you are in front. The survivor is less focused on finding new territory and more focused on continuing. The Skipper knows there is another way.