One of the many wonderful things about living in the United States of America is the opportunity to obtain a free education. This is a gift for which we should be very grateful. And the best way to show our gratitude? By taking advantage of this gift: learning as much as we can while we are in school, encouraging our children to do the same and then taking the opportunity of educating ourselves into our adult lives. Education does not stop with elementary school, middle school or high school. It continues on, whether it be through higher learning in a university or college setting, or with technical training or apprenticeship.
It can also continue past our formal education. We can seek learning in the libraries that dot our communities. Abraham Lincoln walked miles to obtain books; we can walk a few blocks. We can read fiction and non-fiction, biographies about those who have gone before and periodicals that detail what and who is making history right now. Books that help us better understand the biology of our beautiful earth and the physics of the universe. Stories of romance and friendship. Tales of worlds created with the amazing human imagination or ideas of innovation and what might be. We can also go online and seek learning from a wide variety of news and informational sources. We must fact check and be sure we are obtaining accurate information. We can listen to many opinions and ideas whether in community newspapers, forums at community centers and schools or online gatherings where different voices can be heard and expressed. While we gather facts and listen to opinions, we should be sure we carefully identify the difference between the two. With so many different opportunities to pursue, we can be grateful that learning is not a one time event, it is a lifetime pursuit.
But learning should not be a burden; it should be a delight. As a busy member of society trying to earn a living and make a good life for yourself and those you love, you might say, I don’t have time. True, none of us have the time it takes to understand all there is to know about the complex and amazing world we live in, but perhaps we can squeeze in a little more time for learning. For example, do you have time for a quick glance at a language app each day? Do you have five minutes to read a daily morning newsfeed? Do you have 15 minutes on your evening bus ride to tackle a chapter of the latest Pulitzer prize winning novel? Or even the free newspaper that was pressed into your hand at the metro entrance? Do you have a little time this weekend to visit the local cultural bazaar in your community? Can you take an hour to walk into the local art gallery, or public museum? Or to walk across the road to meet and understand the new family just resettled in your neighborhood from another country? Perhaps you have an evening a week to give this gift to others: tutoring at the local family shelter, helping someone learn to read at your local library, giving the gift of English to someone who needs this second language in their quest to become educated. Even the simplest effort can add up and build a wealth of knowledge. So, enjoy the journey!
This wonderful gift, this gift of education which comes as a result of our open society, actually in turn helps us to be free. Truly, we must seek learning so that we may lift ourselves and others. So that we may choose wisely our leaders and fellow laborers. So that we may lift up others in their quest to be free. In order to be free, we must arm ourselves with educated minds and then use those minds to think clearly and choose wisely as we interact with those in our community and around the world. As we enjoy the liberty and freedom in this country, we can best preserve that freedom by educating ourselves.