Probably every generation sees itself as charged with remaking the world. Mine, however, knows it will not remake the world. But its task is perhaps even greater, for it consists in keeping the world from destroying itself.
As the heir of a corrupt history that blends blighted revolutions, misguided techniques, dead gods and worn-out ideologies, in which second-rate powers can destroy everything today but are unable to win anyone over and in which intelligence has stooped to becoming the servant of hatred and oppression, that generation, starting from nothing but its own negations, has had to re-establish both within and without itself a little of what constitutes the dignity of life and death.
Faced with a world threatened with disintegration, in which our grand inquisitors may set up once and for all the kingdoms of death, that generation knows that, in a sort of mad race against time, it ought to reestablish among nations a peace not based on slavery, to reconcile labor and culture again, and to reconstruct with all (people) an Ark of the Covenant.
Perhaps it can never accomplish that vast undertaking, but most certainly throughout the world it has already accepted the double challenge of truth and liberty and, on occasion, has shown that it can lay down its life without hatred. That generation deserves to be acclaimed and encouraged wherever it happens to be, and especially wherever it is sacrificing itself.
And to it, confident of your wholehearted agreement, I should like to transfer the honor you have just done me.
Truth is mysterious, elusive, ever to be won anew. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to get along with as it is exciting. We must progress toward those two objectives, painfully but resolutely, sure in advance that we shall weaken and flinch on such a long road.
From Albert Camus, in his acceptance speech upon being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, December 10, 1957