From The Human Comedy, William Saroyan, 1943, as spoken by Miss Hicks to Homer.
“In a democratic state every man is the equal of every other man up to the point of exertion, and after that every man is free to exert himself as he chooses. I am eager for my boys and girls to exert themselves about behaving with honor. What my children appear to be on the surface is nooooooo matter to me. I am fooled neither by gracious manners nor by bad manners. I am interested in what is truly beneath each kind of manners. Whether one of my children is rich or poor, brilliant or slow, genius or simple-minded, is no matter to me, if there is humanity in him—if he has a heart—if he loves truth and honor—if he respects both his inferiors and his superiors. If the children of my classroom are human, I do not want them to be alike in manner of being human. If they are not corrupt, it does not matter to me how they differ from one another. I want each of my children to be himself. I don’t want you to be like somebody else just to please me or to make my work easier. I would soon be weary of a classroom full of perfect little ladies and gentlemen. I want my children to be people—each one separate—each one special—each one a pleasant and exciting variation of all the others. I wanted Hubert Ackley here to listen to this—to understand with you that if at the present you do not like him and he does not like you, that is perfectly natural. I wanted him to know that each of you will begin to be truly human when, in spite of your natural dislike of one another, you will still respect one another. That is what it means to be civilized.”