Former presidential candidate and Green Party member Ralph Nader spoke to students at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Cañada on Feb. 9. Nader spoke on "What Students Should Know, What Students Can Do" in the first hour of his visit. Then he met with the college-style American Identity course in which all Prep seniors are enrolled.
Headmaster Peter Bachmann introduced Nader as "a man who insists we take our political birthright seriously."
Nader urged students to "fight the forces of trivialization," "grasp the intangibles" and begin to see "through cultural screens" to become leaders in many fields and endeavors.
"In this auditorium, there are future leaders who will do something enduring," said Nader. "Have a higher estimate of your own significance than your peer group or society. You are the last generation to need to give up so little to achieve so much.
"If you are not idealistic your horizons will not be high," said Nader, praising youthful idealism. "You won't ask impertinent questions. You won't leave the world a better place."
Nader took student questions on electoral matters, global warming, direct democracy and Washington lobbyists, remarking, "I hate to keep saying 'good question,' but these are all really good questions."
Nader has been honored by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th Century and is the author of "Unsafe at Any Speed," the 1965 book on the auto industry credited with igniting the American consumer movement. In his latest citizen initiative, he is working with alumni reunion classes to expand their efforts beyond parties to community projects that systematically advance social justice.