In the new “Making America” series for PragerU, Dinesh D’Souza, the author and speaker, takes a look at Founding Father John Adams and his thoughts on the importance of virtue and good character.
Adams believed cultivation of virtue should be the chief concern of Americans. But to understand “virtue,” says D’Souza, Americans today need to understand another phrase — the “pursuit of happiness.”
The phrase meant something different before.
D’Souza explains that to many today, the pursuit of happiness means following one’s heart and being true to one’s self. But Adams would disagree with that interpretation.
“To John Adams, America’s second president and a seminal figure in the creation of the country, this was bad advice. For Adams and the Founders generally, happiness was a modus vivendi, a way of living, expressed by how one conducted oneself, especially in public,” D’Souza explains.
“Being yourself,” Adams would have argued, would lead to self-absorption, not virtue. Instead, as explained by D’Souza, Adams would have argued that