I once spoke to a couple who arrived in the U.S. as political refugees. They were poor, hungry, without friends, and of very limited resources, and yet they spent close to 70 percent of their income on the education of their son. I asked them why, and I'll never forget what they said. "People can take your house, your car, and your clothes. They can take away your family, your liberty, and even your life. But they can never—something about education."
Education is the single most important issue of today. More important than… you know, all the other issues combined. "Why is that?" you ask. Because it's the educated minds of the country that consider those issues and then, once they decide, go on ahead and figure out what we are going to do about those things.
Education is the whatchamacallit—the big base thingy under a house—for a prosperous life. We use education every day. Sign a contract this morning? You used reading comprehension. Balance your checkbook? You used math. You probably didn't realize you used geography to get to this symposium today. Did you look at the map on the back of your prospectuses? You, sir, were using geography. Then, of course, there are tangible financial benefits to obtaining higher degrees, such as what-have-you.
The other benefits of an education—the opposite of the practical benefits—are infinite. They are not unlike outer space in this respect. But just as scientists continue to send astronauts up into space's farthest reaches, in spite of its, you know, endlessness or whatever, we scholars attempt to fathom education's impractical effects on our minds and our futures, for, as scholars, this is what… I'm going to do now. Could you cue the nature sounds, Rachel?
Dim the lights.
With an education comes the ability to articulate oneself. With that ability comes Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Cavemen. Stonehenge. The Earl of Northumberland. Mr. Barnes and Mr. Noble. The Mayans, Beethoven's hearing, Dr. Mengele. Education is the keystone to these worlds; it's the arch that spans the doorway between the future and the past. Without education, a child cannot pass beneath that doorway. Such a child is left outside, in the present, for he does not have the tithe. That's enough of the lion sounds now.
Rachel? That's enough.
Education. Education is the key that unlocks locked things. Education lets us approach problems analytically, see issues from multiple sides, and these valuable things are important. Education is essential to being able to communicate with the French in their own language. It is essential to being able to recognize this or that aria. It is essential to a whatchamacallit… when you get the wine? I am going to move on to the third portion of the planned presentation.
I obtained this pie chart from a web site and printed it. You see, according to scientists at a center of great learning, if 10 percent more Americans obtained a college degree, the future world—our greatest gift to our children—would be so affected as to… This poster board is pro-education.
In conclusion, let me invite you to visualize an image from the Bible. It is the future, and we have no bodies to speak of. Above us, a translucent ramp into the sky, with celestial escalators, these escalators ridden by children, angels, all of them moving upwards, and at the ramp's apex: I forget. It's something about education. In order to guarantee that our future is like a quiet, beautiful, ramp thingamajiggy in the sky, we must get every American child educated.
In order to get every American child educated, we must begin the process of education at home. Also, we must allocate not just money and teachers, facilities, libraries, but also… all those things and more. Much more. Only by granting every child equal access to the great font of knowledge can we do what we need to do as we move on into our future, the future of America, the future of the world. As that great general—Custer—said on the eve of that important evening, his final stand, he sat, warming his hands around a cocoa, and said, you know, "Everyone should have an education."