Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a poem called “A Nation’s Strength.” In a nutshell, the six stanza poem tells us that a nation is strong only if they have strong men. For our purposes, let’s focus on the final two stanzas:
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
One of the things we want our kids to understand is how material things can’t be the only things to make us happy. Emerson tells us that a nation can’t be great if its only pursuit is “gold” – it’s only great when it’s men (and women) pursue truth and honor.
In the final stanza, Emerson paints a picture of what it means to be brave. The brave work while others sleep. In other words, they face their problems head-on while others run away.
Emerson teaches us a lot when it comes to what a person of character should look like and how they should behave.
When we think about how we approach our parenting, consider what Emerson emphasized – honesty and bravery make us great.
If you want to read the entire poem, you can do so here. It’s not too long and quite easy to understand.