Gaining access to humanity’s riches

(…) We have undertaken the extremely difficult task of bringing into the street within reach of the poorest children knowledge and learning that reflect the very best of humanity. Most meaningful and essential in this is what human beings have successfully built, imagined, invented and experienced during their lives, then recorded in books. (…) Had we achieved only this, we would have contributed enough towards the future of those hardest hit by poverty.

(…) Freedom cannot be earned by debates or marches. Freedom is gained by pondering long and deep what people have experienced, the best they have imagined and invented throughout the ages and passed on to those who come after them. Those of us living in poverty are among the generations who have not reaped this heritage, which is why we are defenceless, powerless, speechless and unable to control our lives.

(…) I believe human beings can only be free if they master the best humanity has to offer. This, whether we like it or not, is what people have entrusted to books, in writings, in sculptures, in the legacy they have left which through the centuries continue to express the immense richness and value of human beings.

(…) This is our true struggle, the one we are called on to lead.   Someone reminded us that in both socialist and capitalist societies, the proportion of workers who go to university is almost the same. This is a sign of what I have always been saying: that the world, wherever it is, is in the hands of the same social class, and that those at the head of any regime are from the same social world created in the same universities offering the same essential skills.

We have to fight this battle; we cannot rely on others to do it. We can count on ourselves insofar as we master our intelligence, our reasoning, our projects and our lives. We are the sole architects of our lives. We certainly cannot hope for a miracle in the system that would suddenly transform everything.

This has never happened, unfortunately. If we don’t fight for our own freedom and the means to achieve it, we will never be free.

We should contemplate the lesson offered to us tonight. We begin liberating ourselves and those around us, our children first of all, when we have the determination to help them discover through books the profound richness of the world.

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