01 02 03 400 Things: A Letter From Abigail Adams 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

A Letter From Abigail Adams

34 As you may already know, I find a lot of interesting wisdom in the writings of the founding fathers. Today, I'm going to share something from Abigail Adams, wife to John Adams (the 2nd President) and mother to six, including John Quincy Adams (the 6th President). She spent much of the American Revolution raising her children while her husband was away doing his part to win independence from the British.

The following letter was written to her sister in 1785, regarding training the eyes and mind. She recognized that when we view something offensive several times, it becomes 'normal.' This is exactly how I feel about TV.

"This day 3 months I sailed for Europe since which many new and interesting scenes have presented themselves before me. I have seen many of the beauties and some of the deformities of this old world. I have been more than ever convinced that there is no summit of virtue, and no depth of vice which human nature is not capable of rising to, on the on hand, or sinking into on the other. I have felt the force of an observation which I have read, that 'daily example is the most subtle of prisons.' I have found my taste reconciling itself to habits, customs, and fashions, which at first disgusted me.

The first dance which I saw upon the stage shocked me, the dressed and beauty of the performers was enchanting, but no sooner did the dance commence, than I felt my delicacy wounded, and I was ashamed to be seen to look at them. Girls clothed in the thinnest silks; and gauze, with their petticoats short, springing two foot from the floor, poising themselves in the air, with their feet flying, and as perfectly showing their garters and draws, as though no petticoat had been worn, was a sight altogether new to me.

Their motions are as light as air and as quick as lightning. They balance themselves to astonishment. No description can equal the reality. They are daily trained to it from early infancy at a royal academy instituted for this purpose. You will very often see little creatures not more than 7 or 8 years old as undauntedly performing their parts as the eldest among them.

Shall I speak a truth and say that repeatedly seeing these dances has worn off that disgust which I first felt, and that I see them now with pleasure. Yet when I consider the tendency of these things, the passions they must excite, and the known character, even to a proverb, which is attached to an opera girl, my abhorrence is not lessened, and neither my reason or judgement have accompanied my sensibility and in acquiring any degree of callousness."

Very wise words from the past!

To sum it up from the Psalms:

I WILL SET NO WICKED THING BEFORE MY EYES. Psalm 101:3

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