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for the Blind

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Acceptance of Honorary Degree, delivered before Glasgow University at Glasgow, Scotland (June 15, 1932)


Dear Friends,

I greet you out of a very warm heart. We have forgathered here not only for hospitality, but for better knowledge and love of each other.

I do not know how to thank the University of Glasgow for its gracious gesture toward me. I can only say, I am very proud, and very humble too, that the University should consider me worthy of its regard. I feel that this high compliment has been paid me not only for what I have accomplished as an individual, but for the encouragement of those whose limitations I share. It is an expression of intelligent sympathy recognizing all who, ambushed by fate, rise in their pride, determined not to topple in defeat.

What would human life be without the sympathy of our fellow-beings? And yet compassion for the broken and the disinherited is of modern growth! For ages and ages, far through the greater part of its life, the world has scorned them. David refers to the blind and lame as hated of his soul, and Job speaks of the poor as despised of their brethren. Not until Jesus looked with pity upon the shunned and the outcast did men begin to give a helping hand to the afflicted.

How far today pity reaches down to rescue the lowliest creature! Love lifts the rim of vision, and gives mind a glory of meaning that it never had before. The parchment which I hold in my hand is a sign that the race is not always to the swift. This is a happy chapter in the history of the handicapped; for it embraces them as co-workers in the world of living men and women. This beneficent act shall stand forever, a deed of generosity from the masters of knowledge and light to those who live under the covert of denial.

Ever since the University of Glasgow was founded, its influence has been a deep river flowing unseen, visiting various parts of the world with reviving power. As showers creep from mountain heights into parched valleys, so into hearts and brains flow love and ideas, spreading a sweet light among the dark shadows of man's ignorance. From now on the University will carry still further the Christian ideal of service by its friendly attitude toward the handicapped. There is no counting the seeds of sympathy it will sow among normal people who still doubt the power of the mind to triumph over physical limitations.

This is education of the highest order --- that which reveals the infinite possibilities of life and mutual helpfulness. When I think what one loving human being has done for me, I realize what will some day happen to mankind when hearts and brains work together. That is why there is such a glow in my thoughts as I accept the declaration of Glasgow University that darkness and silence need not bar the progress of the immortal spirit.

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