Encourage youth to dream big, ask big questions

John E. Sununu betrays his shop education as a mechanical engineer, and perhaps a hostility to a liberal arts education, with his May 7 op-ed “Students don’t get what they pay for.” Sununu would not have been happy with the medieval monks. They didn’t make any money or spend their lives acquiring things. Instead, they devoted themselves to lives of contemplation, prayer, and study. In the process, they preserved something of importance — Western civilization.

The philosopher Hebert Marcuse observed, “An economic system that encourages its young men and women to tailor their educations to the needs of the marketplace, irrespective of their hopes and ambitions, is an economic system that should be roundly condemned. A nation that discourages the study of art, music, and the humanities is a nation that will inevitably find itself populated by unthinking dolts and automatons.”

Some things are more important in one’s own life and in the life of a society than making money and acquiring things. Young people should be encouraged to dream big dreams and to ask big questions. They and the universities in which they study should eschew the advice of those who suggest that they should put aside their goals and aspirations to satisfy the cold, insensitive, and unrewarding needs of the market.

Paul L. Nevins


The writer is the author of “The Politics of Selfishness: How John Locke’s Legacy Is Paralyzing America.”