One of the character traits I have attempted to cultivate in myself and in our children is that of perseverance. I've often quoted Winston Churchill's famous speech, which includes these words:
"We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."
I want my children to learn to persevere, to carry on in spite of incredible odds. They come from a line of courageous people who fought for their right to be free, to worship as they saw fit, and to raise their families as they thought best. In our ancestry, we have Hugenots who fled France rather than give up their faith. We have shipbuilders who knew what it was like to work on a ship so massive that at any moment their lives would be in danger. We have fishermen that went out to sea in order to battle for the means to feed their children. We have architects and nurses and engineers and pilots. We even have a man (my grandfather) who worked with Nikola Tesla. Each of these men and women demonstrated strength of character. They persevered. They carried on, in spite of incredible set backs.
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light;
That stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king,
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
~Douglas Malloch - Good Timber
Strength comes through perseverance.
Courage, brother! do not stumble,
Though thy path be dark as night;
There’s a star to guide the humble,
Trust in God and do the Right.
~Norman Macleod (1812–1872)
Take courage, and carry on.
The essence of good and evil is a certain disposition of the will.
~Epictetus (A.D. c. 50–c. 138)
"Not in rewards, but in the strength to strive,
The blessing lies."
~John Townsend Trowbridge (1827– ?)
How about you? Do you teach your children to carry on in spite of great difficulty? Have you read to them stories of great men and women who faced insurmountable obstacles, yet carried on in spite of pain and sorrow and loss? Do you tell your children the stories of family members who left their homes and families to travel to the new world and start over? Whet their appetite and give them examples of perseverance and courage!