Friday, January 14, 2011

Condoleezza Rice visits Utah and shares some interesting thoughts

Residents of Provo, Utah heard yesterday from Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Dr. Rice spoke at a special Brigham Young University forum that took place on campus. I thought I would share some interesting thoughts she had with members of the audience:

  • As Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009, Dr. Rice kept the portraits of four former Secretaries of State in her office: Thomas Jefferson, George Marshall, Dean Acheson and William Seward. She hailed the men, saying they were often underestimated and heavily criticized in their time, though history would show that their accomplishments to America and the world were invaluable. (For example, William Seward was deeply mocked in his time for organizing the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire. His critics called the purchase a waste of money — Alaska would eventually become the 49th state, and an economic and national security bastion for the U.S.)
  • We are so very fortunate that American men and women volunteer their time and, sometimes, their lives to protect us. Dr. Rice also noted that if we abandon the people of Afghanistan, we will pay for it.
  • Dr. Rice hailed democracy and noted that when democratic institutions are not in place, only violence exists to change the status quo. “Authoritarian regimes are always fearful of the moment when their people are no longer fearful of them,” she said. Democracy is the product of the creativity and innovation of human beings.
  • Dr. Rice said that the key to economic recovery in America is lower regulation and lower taxes for businesses.
  • China will never overtake America in economic and political power, despite what the pundits of today may theorize. China’s political system is much too rigid. Dr. Rice wondered aloud: Is a country like China, that is so terrified of the Internet and going to extreme lengths to censor and imprison obscure political dissidents in far-away provinces, really confident enough to lead today’s knowledge-based revolution?
  • America’s only real threat is America itself…an America that rejects exceptionalism, creativity, risk-taking, innovation and democracy.
  • Our greatest national security threat doesn't come from Al-Qaeda, but from the poor state of our K-12 educational system.
  • We need energetic and ambitious immigrants to continue coming to the United States.
  • Our intellect and our spiritual faith are not enemies of one another. To integrate the knowledge of “what is” with the belief in “what might be” is the essence of being human.
  • We must stay true to the defining principle that every other country admires about America: It doesn't matter where you come from, it only matters where you’re going. This idea (the American Dream) is what binds us together as a people. We the People are not held together by religion, blood or nationality, but by the ideals of freedom, prosperity and individual progression.
  • Americans are optimistic by nature, and we must stay that way. There are so many times this country should have never succeeded when it did. Dr. Rice said that America is an extraordinary testament to turning what seems impossible to what becomes inevitable (she cited examples like America's victory in its revolution against Britain, the peaceful end to the Cold War and the successful desegregation of the American South in the 20th Century).
  • And finally, Dr. Rice said that just because someone disagrees with you it doesn't mean he or she is morally flawed. In fact, if you’re only around people that agree with you all the time, you should find someone else to talk to. Then you can learn how to respectfully debate and formulate arguments…and you might just change your mind about something, which may not be a very bad thing at all.
What do you think about what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Provo? Do you agree? Disagree?

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