THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Lincoln, Massachusetts) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 5, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, THE FIRST LADY, AND DON HENLEY IN VIDEO CONVERSATION WITH STUDENTS The Thoreau Center Lincoln, Massachusetts
4:34 P.M. EDT
Q What do Thoreau's writings and Walden Woods mean to you?
THE PRESIDENT: To me they mean two things. First, when I was very young and was first exposed to Thoreau's writings, he crystallized the feelings that I had when I was in nature and awakened in me a sense of profound obligation to respect and to preserve the natural environment.
The second thing that impressed me about Thoreau from the very beginning is how much he learned about himself and about human nature and society by living apart from it for a while, how much, in effect, he learned about life by being a solitary person living alone for an extended period of time.
It made a huge impression on me because most people wouldn't think that you could learn that much about life living alone. But when I saw what he wrote about solitude, for example, he persuaded me that you could learn quite a lot.
MR. HENLEY: Thoreau, for me, when I first came to him in my early twenties, helped me discover several things. One of those things was a sense of spirituality and the spirituality that exists in nature. He helped me to see my hometown and the surroundings of my hometown with new eyes.
He also gave me a sense of place and made me realize that the woods around my hometown were much like the woods in many other places around the world. Thoreau said, I have traveled much in Concord. And by that he meant that he was able to find the universal in the particular.
MRS. CLINTON: I also appreciated very much Thoreau's emphasis on the importance of nature and nature's continuing gifts to all of us, which make us obligated to ensure that those gifts are available for people in the future.
In many ways, Thoreau is one of our founding fathers of our environmental movement in the United States, because he inspired many, many young people to think seriously about what each of us should do to preserve the environment in which we live.
(A gift is presented to the President and Mrs. Clinton.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would just like to say that I very much appreciate the work that you're doing at the Institute to teach the Russian children about the environment and how we have to preserve it.
Most adults in all industrial countries were raised to believe that in order to have a strong economy you have to destroy part of the environment, and we have to change that. We have to raise a whole generation of young people who believe that the only way to preserve the economy over the long run is to take care of the environment. And if we all work at it together, we'll be successful.
Q I think, Mr. President, that we can not only be hopeful that everything will be the way you said right now, but we can be positive that it is going to be like that in the future. Spacibo.
END 4:45 P.M. EDT