Every child must be encouraged to get as much education as he has the ability to take. We want this not only for his sakebut for the nations sake. Nothing matters more to the future of our country: not military preparednessfor armed might is worthless if we lack the brain power to build a world of peace; not our productive economyfor we cannot sustain growth without trained manpower; not our democratic system of governmentfor freedom is fragile if citizens are ignorant.
For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.
Gentlemen, you are now about to embark on a course of studies which will occupy you for two years. Together, they form a noble adventure. But I would like to remind you of an important point. Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education.
Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. 'Light Give me light' was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.
I hope to change things for the better, For 30 years this country has been about left versus right. Now we want to change things on the inside: national service, education, housing, a middle class that cannot finish the month.
I should wish to see a world in which education aimed at mental freedom rather than imprisoning the minds of the young in a rigid armor of dogma calculated to protect them though life against the shafts of impartial evidence.
I think it's only in a crisis that Americans see other people. It has to be an American crisis, of course. If two countries fight that do not supply the Americans with some precious commodity, then the education of the public does not take place. But when the dictator falls, when the oil is threatened, then you turn on the television and they tell you where the country is, what the language is, how to pronounce the names of the leaders, what the religion is all about, and maybe you can cut out recipes in the newspaper of Persian dishes.