This is a problem, how can we have a body of knowledge and understanding and resist the temptation to misread the interest of the people because we're looking for an opportunity to unload this great load of gold that we have stored up?
There's no science that can't be used for good or for evil. Science could be used by whoever has the power to use it and desire to use it. If you make people knowledgeable about these sciences and don't point out this fact, then you're saying, I withdraw from the battle, from the discussion of the ethics involved. I just stick to the facts. And that of course means that you've surrendered to the strongest forces. You say you're neutral in what you do, you aren't that concerned with it. If the Pentagon is using your discoveries, that's not your problem. It's unavoidable that you have some responsibility, it seems to me, regardless of what you teach or what your subject is or what your skill is. Whatever you have to contribute has a social dimension. And I think it's ineffective to try to impose that on anybody. Sharing it with them is one thing, but trying to impose it is another. You honestly say these are my ideas and I have a right to my opinion, and if I have a right to my opinion then you have a right to your opinion.You can't have an individual right. It has to be a universal right. I have no rights that everybody else doesn't have. There's no right I could claim that anybody else in the world can't claim, and I have to fight for their exercising that right just like I have to fight for my own. That doesn't mean I have to impose my ideas on people, but it means I have a responsibility to provide whatever light I can on the subject and share my ideas with people.
Any decent society has to be built on trust and love and the intelligent use of information and feelings. Education involves being able to practice those things as you struggle to build a decent society that can be nonviolent.
Curiosity is very important I think, and I think too much of education, starting with childhood education, is either designed to kill curiosity or it works out that way anyway.
I don't know what to do, and if I did know what to do I wouldn't tell you, because if I had to tell you today then I'd have to tell you tomorrow, and when I'm gone you'd have to get somebody else to tell you.
I’m much better at working out ideas in action than I am in theorizing about it and then transferring my thinking to action. I don’t work that way. I work with tentative ideas and I experiment and then with that experimentation in action, I finally come to the conclusions about what I think is the right way to do it.
I feel that all knowledge should be in the free-trade zone. Your knowledge, my knowledge, everybody's knowledge should be made use of. I think people who refuse to use other people's knowledge are making a big mistake. Those who refuse to share their knowledge with other people are making a great mistake, because we need it all. I don't have any problem about ideas I got from other people. If I find them useful, I'll just ease them right in and make them my own.
No one is charismatic. Someone becomes charismatic in history, socially. The question for me is once again the problem of humility. If the leader discovers that he is becoming charismatic not because of his or her qualities but because mainly he or she is being able to express the expectations of a great mass of people, then he or she is much more of a translator of the aspirations and dreams of the people, instead of being the creator of the dreams. In expressing the dreams, he or she is recreating these dreams. If he or she is humble, I think that the danger of power would diminish.
When people criticize me for not having any respect for existing structures and institutions, I protest. I say I give institutions and structures and traditions all the respect that I think they deserve. That's usually mighty little, but there are things that I do respect. They have to earn that respect. They have to earn it by serving people. They don't earn it just by age or legality or tradition.
Now I've been criticized for advocating that people push their boundaries because sometimes people get caught. Sometimes people get fired. Sometimes people lose their jobs because of pushing the boundaries too far, but it's an interesting experience. They found they didn't want to stay within those limitations that they were pushing. Once people find they can survive outside the limits, they're much happier. They don't want to feel trapped. So I think we can urge people to push the boundaries as far as they can, and if they get in trouble, fine; that's not too bad if that's what they want to do.
Now I have very little respect for the electoral system in the United States. I could have respected it in the early days, when the country was small and we had small population. The system that we have in the United States was set up at a time when the total population was the population of Tennessee. We've stretched it to try to make it work for different kind of problems and in stretching and adapting it, we've lost its meaning. We still have the form but not the meaning. There's a lot of things that we have to look at critically that might have been useful at one time that are no longer useful I think there's some good in everything. There's some bad in everything. But there's so little good in some things that you know for practical purposes they're useless. They're beyond salvation. There's so much good in some things, even though there's bad, that we build on that.