The most important thing for me about Oxford was not what I learnt there in terms of set texts and set books we had to read, but in terms of a respect for the best in human civilisation.
And the best in human civilisation comes from all parts of the world. It is not limited to Oxford; it is not limited to Burma; it is not limited to any other country. But the fact that in Oxford I had learned to respect all that is the best in human civilisation helped me to cope with what was not quite the best.
Because what is not yet quite the best may still, one day, become the best; it may be improved. It gave me a confidence in humankind. It gave me a confidence in the innate wisdom of human beings – not given to all of us, but given to enough of us for the rest of the world to share, and to make use of it for others.
And I think every Oxonian, or most every, knows that in Lost Horizon Shangri-La was described as “something a little like Oxford”.
Every Oxonian knows.
Perhaps this was why, after my year at Oxford, I had recovered enough distance from the “brutally practical” career options to re-discover my desire to pursue something in the arts, in the entertainment industries. Oxford re-convicted me that at its very best, culture and creativity can move, question, develop, change, decry the worst and celebrate the worthy in life and society. That it can and does remain through the centuries. I definitely needed this precious reminder.
(Thanks Bims, for sharing!)