When I travel, I take pictures – lots of pictures. I take pictures of buildings and signs and lampposts and steeples and arches and flowers and a perfect espresso and quotes carved on cornerstones. And I have my desktop preferences set to rotate through my thousands of travel pictures, one at a time, so that each day I see a different picture from my journeys.
Today’s picture was of this quote: “Give me liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to my conscience, above all other liberties.” Milton
Here’s the picture that’s serving as today’s desktop decoration.
Milton had it right, didn’t he? We are sorely in need of greater understanding and acceptance of the liberty to argue freely according to our understanding. I would add, of course, that we should also argue respectfully, which also seems to be lacking these days.
Isn’t that one reason we work at an institution of higher education? To foster the ability to “know, to utter and to argue freely according to [one’s] conscience”?
I believe that education is the key to a good life. It is the key to a thriving economy, to creativity and innovation, to an engaged citizenry, to a functioning democracy, to acceptance of differences – but most importantly it is the key to liberty. So when I spin and churn at work, when I go from a meeting about a new initiative to hearing a complaint from a faculty member to writing a report about another initiative to responding to an argumentative email, I do it because I believe in the power of education to change things for the good. And yes, I believe fervently in liberty, including the liberty “to argue freely [and respectfully] according to my conscience”. And I expect that you do too.