In recent months, we have seen things happen in our society which call into question who we are and what we are about as a nation and as a people.
We have watched some Americans arrogate to themselves both morality and majority and assert their right to judge who is a patriotic American and who is not, who is a child of God and who is not.
We have seen widespread disrespect for the law and disregard for the rights of others. . . .
We have witnessed the growth of the kind of factionalism in this country which our Founding Fathers feared was the danger most apt to bring this nation down. . . .
Some of you have registered your protest and concern on an issue close to you - that of student aid. A number of you have also spoken out about the need for better answers than military conflict and many of you have joined the tide of protest against the ever-spiraling nuclear race.
I suggest that the time has come for you to raise your voices as committed, responsible citizens on a wide range of other issues that threaten the fabric of our society and challenge our leadership in the world.
The time has come for you - all of you - to make known what kind of a society and what kind of world you want, because it is your country, your world. It is time for you to respond to the bigots, the prophets of doom, the demagogues, the breast-beaters. It is time for you to assert your faith in reason rather than dogma, in rationality rather than inevitability, in the free rather than the shuttered mind. Dr. Edward E. David Jr. President, Exxon Research & Engineering Company University of Florida
Most of you probably are well aware of the technologies that will impact on your working and private lives in the decade ahead. Advanced computing and communications technologies are coming together. As John Pierce has said, ''Soon people will travel for pleasure and communicate to work.'' Industrial robots are coming into wide use, keeping people away from hazards in the workplace and even creating jobs aimed at making robots do the right things. Biotechnology -- that is, gene splicing and other techniques -- may yield astounding benefits in everything from the cheap production of drugs and disease-fighting agents like interferon, to self-fertilizing food crops with boosted nutritional value, to microbes that will help in extracting minerals and petroleum deposits. And toward the end of the century we are likely to see synthetic fuels made from coal and oil shale beginning to relieve our dependence on scarce supplies of oil and natural gas. Moreover, the nation has at its disposal the knowledge and experience to ensure that these technologies are introduced with far more sensitivity to human factors than was ever possible before.
But all this will not be accomplished without some cultural displacement. . . .
This illustrates that new technology is not the answer to everything. We are all aware that new technologies create their own set of problems. I am not just talking about the threat of nuclear war or environmental pollution. New technologies like the auto, the telephone, television, and the computer have changed the way we are human. They have changed the way we perceive and think about the world. They create ethical challenges so simple and personal as whether we Americans should spend such a large fraction of our leisure watching network programming, or playing ''Pac-Man.'' And they create profound problems of public policy. . . .
Future connection . . . implies . . . competence in regard to science and technology, those most powerful instruments of our will. For you personally and for the nation, much depends upon how knowledgeably and wisely they are used. Austin Kiplinger Editor, the Kiplinger Washington Letter Bryant College
In your own working life, I urge you not to draw artificial lines between your business and personal ethics. Treat them as the same, for they are the same. The ethics of business should be the same principles that apply to the rest of human activity. Honesty, candor, and fairness are called for in all of our daily dealings, whether personal or professional. Daring, vigor, and determination are as appropriate in business affairs as in personal ones -- each in its proper time and place. The integration of personal and professional activity will be, I think, one of the distinguishing marks of coming generations . . . the reintegration of daily life. Perhaps it is one of the dividends of our technological system that we will have more and more opportunity to design life styles that take into account different hours, different conditions of work, with less regimentation and more individuality. Business, after all, is not an end in itself. It is our society's way of organizing work, making it serve the purposes of spiritual and social satisfaction. Like most things human, business gives some pleasure in the doing of it, some in the results that flow from it, and it is always best when conducted according to the highest rules of human behavior. Sometimes I think we don't fully appreciate the opportunity we have in being a part of a humane individually oriented society. Ronald Reagan President of the United States Eureka College
We are now approaching an extremely important phase in East-West relations as the current Soviet leadership is succeeded by a new generation. Both the current and the new Soviet leadership should realize aggressive policies will meet a firm Western response.
On the other hand, a Soviet leadership devoted to improving its people's lives, rather than expanding its armed conquests will find a sympathetic partner in the West. The West will respond with expanded trade and other forms of cooperation.
But all this depends on Soviet actions. Standing in the Athenian marketplace 2,000 years ago, Demosthenes said, ''What sane man would let another man's words rather than his deeds proclaim who is at peace and who is at war with him?'' Caspar W. Weinberger US Secretary of Defense US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
The greatest paradox of all is that military strength is most successful if it is never used. But if we are never to use force, we must be prepared to use it and to use it successfully. The greatest victory lies not in the battle which is fought and won, but in the battle which was never fought. As Milton said so simply, ''Peace has her victories, no less renowned than war.'' The only war we want is the war which-never-was. But the war which-never-was is a war that was never fought because we were prepared to fight it, and to win it. It is on this paradox that the first principle and fundamental goal of our military lies: that as George Washington said, ''To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual ways of preserving peace. . . .''
There is nothing new about deterrence, nothing at all. It is not unique to the West, to democracies, or to the nuclear age. The only thing that has changed over the thousands of years of human history is that the stakes of deterrence have risen as the destructive power of war has grown.
Peace is your profession, peace is your ambition, and peace is your goal. Peace is the priceless possession you offer to us all. For you, more than any other men and women, know that war is not glory, nor medals, nor handsome uniforms. . . . No one despises war more than the professional, for he has stared it in the face. Indeed, anyone who has seen war must always be totally dedicated to do everything possible to deter another war. Martha Nell Hardy Associate professor of speech communications University of North Carolina
Each of you will make an occupational choice -- work, a job, a career, a profession. Make this commitment with care. Success and financial rewards are important, a sense of joy and enrichment in your work are much more important. Take time and care to find the work that enriches you. If you are unhappy or bored or unfulfilled, have the courage to change. If at any time you feel that you have outgrown an earlier right choice, have the courage to change. Your occupational choice is your continuing responsibility. Dr. John Paul Schaefer Outgoing president University of Arizona
Now, in an age when technology has become a dominant force in our society, we cannot afford to waste any of our intellectual human capital. We need to renew our commitment to provide equal educational opportunity to all segments of our society. We need to develop the kind of school systems throughout the country that are color blind, that will push each student to learn and achieve to the limits of individual abililty, and that will provide the learning environment where the special magic of the educatonal process can flourish.
That kind of educational environment is within our grasp. We only need demand of our educational leaders, our legislators, and school boards that it be set in place. It won't cost us any extra money, but it will require that parents, teachers, and students care enough about education to get involved in the process.
When that day arrives, we are then going to have to do something that requires real courage. We are going to have to recognize that equal opportunity cannot guarantee equal results. When a society refuses to distinguish between achievement and nonachievement, its standards are reduced to the least common denominator. Not only does no one win . . . everyone loses. M. A. Messingale Chancellor University of Nebraska-Lincoln
By nature, I am an optimist -- optimistic about the future -- the future of you as graduates, of us as a university, of our country, and of our world.
And this optimism is not based on some naive faith, but rather in understanding that there are what Barbara Tuchman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian once labeled, ''mankind's better moments.''
We are often troubled by the specters of nuclear disaster and national upheavals -- the same century which we have seen two devastating world wars.
However, do not forget that this century has also seen us send men to the moon and return them, a feat of unparalleled and daring technology. We have seen the ''Green Revolution'' which, for the first time in human history, makes possible the elimination of starvation on this planet. The catalog could go on and on.
So, while we rightly concern ourselves with the tragedies and cruelties and inadequacies of our time, let us not overlook Professor Tuchman's ''better moments'' in our lives. John Tower Republican senator, Texas US Army Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Notwithstanding America's remarkable and unparalleled military record . . . the tradition of the American people is antimilitaristic. This antimilitary attitude in the American mind is based, at least in part, on the deep-rooted American view that men are rational and that peaceful solutions to disputes should be achievable. Only when unambiguous challenges to America's valued ideals and personal security arise do Americans mobilize to fight. We are inclined to wait for a crisis before gathering our military potential. In today's world, absent the will to prepare, the time to fight for a cause may well have come and gone before we are ready.
A society that has shunned militarism throughout its history must nonetheless recognize that constant military preparedness is essential in the face of a continuing threat to the nation's security -- a threat that continues to grow with a remorseless and unprovoked buildup of a global offensive capability by the Soviet Union. William Miliken Governor of Michigan University of Michigan
The personal task of making a living, as crucial as it is right now, will not be the sole purpose, nor should it be, of what your education has given you. If your occupation becomes your sole preoccupation throughout your lifetime, or if your only interest beyond making a living is in shallow, passive entertainment before a television set or in a stadium, then both you and the society of which you are a part will fall far short of your potential. Both you and society eventually will lose the essence of your freedom, which lies in wisdom, compassion, integrity, and responsibility. You will be asked to apply the reasoning power of your minds to the primary issues that face humanity today. A. Bartlett Giamatti President Yale University In choosing between ideologues of the Right and of the Left, I choose to eschew both because they are finally, in their desire to control and exclude, not different. If you believe they are, if you believe that an ideologue of the Left is less authoritarian in impulses and acts than one of the Right, look again. Dr. Herbert Reynolds President, Baylor University Texas A&M University
There are some definite principles and concepts which you should have derived from your years at Texas A&M, and any other of our institutions which are genuinely concerned about individual students. If, for example, you have not become a more caring and sensitive person, we have failed you, you have failed us, and we have failed one another. If we do not care about people and the events of life, and passionately so, then we are not as fully human as we should and could be.
If you leave A&M without some explicit recognition of such tenets or beliefs, then you may have some training, but you likely do not have an education in the best sense of the word -- for to be educated is to not only be knowledgeable about facts and figures but to know, appreciate, and passionately care for humankind from past, present, and future perspectives. Training tends to cultivate our individual aptitudes or idiosyncrasies and perpetuates the ability to keep on doing so. Education should, on the other hand, qualify us to deal not only with the past and present, but also the unexpected and constant changes encountered in life. Lawrence O'Brien Commissioner of the National Basketball Association Springfield College
A democratic form of government is, by definition, only as strong and as affective as the people it governs. After most of a lifetime in politics, I feel I can convey to you certain insights.
It was, of all people, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who said, ''Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.'' Be wary of anyone who makes outlandish promises or grandiose pledges. Make note of those promises and then keep score. In the world of sports, there is always a box score to record a team's performance. What has been overlooked by our politicians is that, in the world of politics, there is also a box score. And if you find that box score does not tally to your satisfaction, then it is up to you to make the trades necessary to place the best talent on the -- nation's governing team. . . .
When you hear such promises, your antennae should go up and you should be prepared to react. The purpose of government is to serve the people while providing leadership. Those who govern must be active, not passive. That is equally true of those who are governed. When you point a finger at some elected or appointed official, remember that the other fingers are pointing at you. Government is only as just and competent as the men and women in it, and it is up to you to be certain that the government contains objective and capable men and women. Dr. Otis Singletary President, University of Kentucky University of Texas-Austin
By its very nature, a university cannot be immediately relevant like the morning newspaper. One underlying assumption of all scholarship is that things look very different after systematic analysis than they do on the surface. Students in a good university are simply not allowed to dismiss a topic as irrelevant because they happen not to understand it or because they are unwilling to study it. Nor is a worthwhile university taken in by the natural tendency of the young to oversimplify the problems of man and society. It sees no ultimate value in the devil theory, that comfortable point of view which emphasizes one's own almost limitless virtue while underscoring the special sinfulness of those who take some other point of view. Nothing of consequence is accomplished by taking a world full of challenging problems and converting it into a world full of unworthy people. There are real and difficult problems loose in this world and not many of them are likely to be solved by slogans, which after all are substitutes for thought rather than examples of man thinking. Paul E. Tsongas Democratic senator, Massachusetts Emmanuel College
We were not put on this earth and I did not watch my three children be born on this earth to have them incinerated in the pursuit of rhetoric and cold-war ideology.When you take responsibility for your future, you take some responsibility for the future of all humanity.
When you bring a child into the world, you promise them hope, peace, and survivability. And if you love your children, there is nothing else.
Limited nuclear war, winnable nuclear war, definite margins of superiority -- contemplate your future, go home and look at a child.
It may be that our evolution physically and emotionally was not able to keep up with our development technologically. There are many people who make that argument, that we are still mired in the animalism of those forms of life that came before us. We don't have the choice to fall into that trap. . . .
I would say to you in closing -- if we do nothing, if people don't get excited, don't lobby, don't work, and let those missiles fly and there are 15 minutes left, at least let them not complain, because they had a chance. They were told and they decided to let the experts decide.
What I'm trying to do, what the others in Congress are trying to do is to say to you, the American people: You have to do it because we can't do it alone. That's the responsibility for being adult and human in our day. That's the mandate for our survival, and, more importantly, for our children's survival.