"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."
The quote above is from John Adams, a lawyer, statesman and diplomat who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801.
John Adams lived almost his entire adult life in service to his young country, helping to set it on a path to what was then uncertain greatness. He is not the most popular or well known US President, but he was one of the deepest thinkers among them. I particularly like this quote because it encapsulates my own life's journey. I am a scientist who once dreamed of spending my life pushing the frontiers of scientific and technological discovery. Yet I have found myself sucked into politics and governance at a critical time in the turbulent life of of our nation.
Politics is certainly not in my blood. There is nothing that I would enjoy more than to lead a life of quiet contemplation with predictable daily routines "far from the madding crowd", enjoying my music, reading my books, without a care in the world.
Each time I try to walk away though, I find myself being pulled back by a fear of what questions my children would ask me in later years if I did not put in my all to create the kind of country that they could proudly call their own.
This is why I do what I do, and I can truthfully say I have no regrets.
To learn more about John Adams, you can watch an excellent HBO mini-series on his life, available here: https://itun.es/us/RwerC
You can also read his Pulitzer prize-winning, bestselling biography by David McCollough on Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FC0QHA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_udp_api_xh7bxbGBW070V