The meaning of alienation

British trade-unionist Jimmy Reid died Aug. 10, and the London Independent got permission from the archives of Glasgow University to run a speech he gave upon his inauguration as rector of the school, in 1972. The speech, according to The Independent, “was compared at the time to the Gettysburg Address.”

Reid urged students not to fall into what he saw as a spreading I-got-mine mentality.

Reject the values and false morality that underlie these attitudes. A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”

Read the whole speech here.

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