Laws just or unjust may govern men's actions. Tyrannies may restrain or regulate their words. The machinery of propaganda may pack their minds with falsehood and deny them truth for many generations of time. But the soul of man thus held in trance or frozen in a long night can be awakened by a spark coming from God knows where and in a moment the whole structure of lies and oppression is on trial for its life.
We have a system which, though far from perfect, is strong with idealism. It gives elbow room for men of all races and all beliefs. It is vital and dynamic. And it works. We have the means of shaping the world in our pattern. If we do, freedom will be assured for all men. The decision is in the hands of this generation. It is a challenge to our political competence. For Western civilization it is the greatest challenge of all time.
That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees - Those dying generations-at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unaging intellect.
Every one expects to go further than his father went; every one expects to be better than he was born and every generation has one big impulse in its heart - to exceed all the other generations of the past in all the things that make life worth living.
That is the future, and it is probably nearer than we think. But our primary problem as universities is not engineering that future. We must rise above the obsession with quantity of information and speed of transmission, and recognize that the key issue for us is our ability to organize this information once it has been amassed - to assimilate it, find meaning in it, and assure its survival for use by generations to come.
We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they've got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go. Science is all metaphor. In the information age, you don't teach philosophy as they did after feudalism. You perform it. If Aristotle were alive today he'd have a talk show. If you don't like what you are doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove. If you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out.