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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Festival's key speaker offered words of wisdom

Friday, August 23, 2013

The keynote speaker at this year's Warren Street Festival, held last weekend, gave some very good advice, much of it directed at youth.

"Education is a tool and passport to the future. Get all that you can in this technological society in which we live."

"Young people need to vote, and vote for people who will represent them."

Both of these statements are wise indeed.

As most adults know and appreciate, the value of education simply cannot be underestimated. That is especially true today because many manufacturing jobs, decent paying jobs, that once were readily available for high school graduates are for the most part a thing of the past. Jobs today require far more training than in the past, one of the reasons career/technical education is so vital. As Dr. Echols said, we live in a technological society.

That doesn't mean students should all plan to attend a four-year college. Most jobs will be in sectors that do not require a traditional four-year degree. Again, it's the skills training that is crucial, and that can be accomplished with a combination of apt high school programs and an advanced degree and/or training. Obviously, four-year degrees, and beyond, are great. But they are not for everyone, and they don't necessarily bestow job skills that are in high demand.

The bottom line is, students today more than ever need a solid education that results in marketable skills.

We also totally agree with Dr. Echols' point on voting. Voting is important at any age, but getting started right away, at 18 years old, usually means lifelong participation. And it often leads to a lifelong interest.

Make no mistake, whether we like it or not, politics is and always has been a fundamental part of society. The people we support and vote into office should reflect, as closely as possible, our own political philosophies and goals. The arena may often be filled with ugliness, especially on the national and state levels where political posturing trumps reasonable compromise. The quest for power and the determination to keep it are as old as society itself. But politics is a necessary process that guides the course of the nation. And that makes participation by caring people all the more important.

This leads to another piece of advice from Dr. Echols -- "We need both peacemakers and agitators in our local governments."

That may sound a bit edgy, but it is true. We need people, at all political levels, with varying ideas, and that variation is often interpreted as agitation. If every member of every political body agreed on everything, well, we would, and should, be scared. The idea is to bring all ideas to the table, discuss them and try to reach a consensus (peacemakers come in handy here). Fortunately, we usually don't see the political posturing much on the local level, where party politics takes a back seat to personality and reputation. So compromise can be more the norm than the exception.

It's is great to see youth take an interest in politics and do so for the right reason -- they care.

Dr. Echols, a veteran of the U.S. Army and pastor of Moral Hill Baptist Church in Axton, has been around awhile and obviously has developed a great deal of wisdom along the way. We are glad he shared some of it with us at the annual festival.

 
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