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Powell to MSU students: ‘Never give up. Never give up’

Powell to MSU students: ‘Never give up. Never give up’

It’s no surprise that a man who started as the son of immigrants from Jamaica, then rose through the U.S. military to serve with presidents and take calls from kings, would believe in the American dream yet be adamant that we must all have a global perspective.

What may be surprising is that General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), who has been privy to classified information about some of the most seemingly unsolvable international problems of our times, is highly optimistic about the U.S., the world and the future — and he wants you to be, too.

In the Public Affairs Convocation speech he gave March 20 at JQH Arena, Powell discussed his time as a worldwide dignitary and his suggestions for future leaders. He advocated for economic growth, especially in energy and tech industries, as well as universal health care and environmental concerns.

Other key points:

1) Compromise.

“I will use the example of the Founding Fathers.” They had to make “a terrible choice” on slavery, but the “three-fifths of a person” compromise allowed them to create a nation in a few weeks. “And then I look at the Congress we have sitting in Washington today, and there are 535 of them, and they can’t pass a budget. This is disgraceful.”

2) Get smart about politics and the news.

“Increasingly, (for-profit cable news channels) only focus on one part of the perspective. … The problem with it is that, if you just watch those who feel the way you do, you don’t learn about the other side.”

3) Be optimistic.

“The reality is that America is safer now than perhaps it’s ever been. There is no existential threat to our existence as a nation.” Yes, global crises will pop up — but “we’re safe … don’t be too fearful.” He said rising powers such as China and India want to be our financial friends, and potential enemies can’t match our industrial or military strength.

4) Have a sense of humor.

After leaving public office, “I bought me a Corvette. Anybody here who’s older than 70 having any kind of troubles, man, get you a Corvette. The police in northern Virginia were not happy with this solution.”

5) MSU students should aim to be the next world leaders.

Nothing is beyond your reach. “It’s what you do with life (that) will determine where you end up in life. Never give up. Never give up.”

Powell’s visit was sponsored by Trailiner Corporation, the Missouri State University Foundation and the David D. Glass Lecture Series.