The challenge facing education and America - goes beyond the question of money to the moral foundations of today's society, the president of Brigham Young University said Tuesday.
"I wish to say that the fate of our nation and the individual communities within it is much more a matter of stern will and enlightened vision and moral fiber than it is of money or taxation or legislators haggling back and forth about the problem," Jeffrey R. Holland said."It requires some of the latter, but it demands an immense amount of the former. We can have exactly the kind of future we want, in education specifically and in society generally.
"A great people is what you need for a pretty, great state," he said.
The BYU president spoke to the weekly Salt Lake Rotary Club meeting in the Doubletree Hotel.
Although his talk was titled "The Challenge and Change in Education," Holland put education's challenge within the broader context of the challenges of our day.
He quoted widely from historian Barbara W. Tuchman, who died last month. Tuchman, who twice won a Pultizer Prize, wrote "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century," which compared the 14th and 20th centuries, finding a profound crisis of faith and loss of confidence in man's "ability to construct a good society" in both.
She characterized the 20th century as the Age of Disruption, with public immorality being the ultimate disruption leading people to confuse right and wrong. Admirable models are missing because of "the absence of what she calls religion as a major force in everyday life," Holland said.
The BYU leader contrasted her view of the lack of 20th century heroes to the time of America's birth. Holland paid tribute to George Washington, whom he called a "genuine hero and truly remarkable man."
He quoted writer Garry Wills, who called Washington "the greatest president because the people were at their most enlightened and alert" time.
Holland said he agrees with Wills, believing that Americans can be masters of their fate educationally, politically and economically and can make their leaders great, if they cherish standards of decency and discipline.
The founding of America was an experiment in Utopia that tested the thesis that given freedom, independence and local self-government, the people "`would ripen into all the excellence and all the dignity of humanity,"' Holland quoted one writer.
Democracy can be compatible with a strong social order, individual liberty and universal education through the integrity and determination of the people, Holland said.
"It lies in the renewal and return, rather than in the dissipation and disappearance, of the character and moral force and religious convictions in our men and women, including our young men and young women, whatever that religion may be. It lies in the ability and determination to declare some things right and some things wrong, as best we are able to determine such, and then to expend great effort in living so," he said.