Found this two page speech in my college materials. It’s from an unknown author/speaker, but I found it inspiring and thought I would share.
“How you have prepared yourselves… in your college or university… will determine whether we have progress or chaos… whether we have peace and prosperity… or death and destruction.
Your thoughts… your actions will determine whether the battles of your generation will be fought in the halls of government… or in the jungles of Africa… or Asia… or here on our own soil.
Whether these battles will be fought by ballot… or by bullet… will be determined by your judgment… by your decisions… and by your leadership.
If your generation is like mine… you face this challenging and sometimes frightening future with a bit of anxiety. You feel some frustration… for you are driven by youth to leap into life… yet there is some uncertainty. You see the ominous shadow of the “bomb.” You see a troubled world… a war in Vietnam… political unrest and revolution in several corners of the world. And there is the paradox of poverty amid plenty.
but generally speaking… the world that beckons you… is not unlike the one that awaited my generation… or the preceding generation… nor the world that greeted Lincoln… or Jefferson.
My generation was born amid the blood and tears of World War I. We were nurtured by the hunger of the great depression… hammered by the inhumanity of World War II. Yet, we emerged with the greatest nation ever to fly its colors on the face of this globe.
This is what you inherit from us. The landmark of freedom. The symbol of human dignity.
You inherit, as well, many serious problems and threats… many tasks undone… many dreams unfulfilled.
But then, every generation since the birth of our Nation has faced problems and threats to our way of life. But each succeeding generation has found itself better equipped to meet these challenges. And each has found a way to bequeath a better life to those who follow.
The complaint of so many young people today… is that there is nothing left to do. The adventure of the old days is gone. There are no new worlds to conquer.
To this we can say that the real age of exploration still lies before us. For the greatest discoveries are yet to be made.
The leaned tell us that more progress… more inventions and discoveries… will be made in your generation… than in all the years of recorded history combined.
The whole universe awaits you. The mysteries of the heavens are yours to unravel.
And, in addition to uncharted space… three-fourths of the world’s surface remains unexplored… the are beneath the seas… an area much richer and more productive than the lands we now occupy.
BUt the greatest area for exploration is in the vast reaches of men’s minds… the total person… the heart and soul of mankind. The secrets of success…. of peace… of the brotherhood of nations still are locked within this challenging endeavor. It is an opportunity that cries for creative development. The truths of life and its purpose must bring light ot the dark doubts of ignorance and prejudice… and bring us understanding and tolerance.
What kind of world do you want? What kind of world are you willing to work for? Will you sell you right to adventure… for security on a sea of mediocracy? Or will you boldly meet the challenging opportunities of the future that await the vigorous assault of young minds and fresh thought?
I ask you these questions because the choice will be yours. And history soon will record your answers on the pages of time. The answers will be written by the way you live your lives.
Thomas Jefferson said, “Each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes the most promotive of its own happiness,” and that “nothing then is unchangeable… but the inherent and unalienable rights of man…”
Much of the machinery of government should be changed. Even some of our democratic institutions could be altered to better equip your generation to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving future.
Grasp boldly the challenges before you… but move with caution lest you destroy more than you build.
You have the talent! You have the ability! If young men like you but have the desire… you can shape the world to your own pattern! I pray that you will seize the initiative… that you will involve yourselves… in the conduct of public affairs. And that you will make government serve you… so that you will be the masters of it and not slaves to it. Make it a tool with which you can build a better nation… and thus a better world.”
I believe this was from some sort of graduation speech at the University of Georgia, perhaps from an alumnus. I found it in my college materials from an honor society. If you know who spoke these words, I would love to provide proper attribution. Otherwise, enjoy.