Most of us remember Albert Einstein as a giant in physics, but from a collection of his writings, he was also very much interested in education and cultural matters. Below is his talk to a group of children in the 1930s – no long-winded moralising sermon (no one remembers long speeches), just a short, powerful reminder that if we ever discover anything new it is because generations of people before us had set up the foundation for it to happen. The one line closing argument is compelling!
My dear children:
I rejoice to see you before me today, happy youth of a sunny and fortunate land.
Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labour in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common.
If you always keep that in mind you will find a meaning in life and work and acquire the right attitude toward other nations and ages.