We can accept that food shouldn't be taken for granted and it is a sin to waste it, because there are millions starving all over the world. That moral line of thought isn't difficult. But what about education? I would liken it to food, and I would never take a chance to learn for granted, because out there, millions of people, particularly children, are denied this valuable chance to learn.
In any case, this story about Babar Ali, the youngest schoolmaster (at 16 years old), and his little unofficial school in India should make the idea a little more salient and heartfelt.
To me, education and knowledge is so important because it liberates people. Enslavement of a people can only happen unchallenged when a population is illiterate and unenlightened. This dates back to past millenia, as language was only propagated exclusively among political elites so that everyone else could be easily utilised as unquestioning slaves. Without the access to language and knowledge, people are relegated to animals as their awareness is undeveloped and they can only rely on instinct and other people, which is dangerous because it then allows powerful men to elicit tyrannious acts at their whims and fancies. Only through an enlightened voice can an idea spread through communication, poetry, music, art and revolution, and only then will a tyrant begin to fear his people.
When idealistic liberals see utopia as the perfect society run by many rational men and a minimal state, this is the realistic beauty of the idea that everyone can think for themselves so that a whimsically intervening tyrant isn't necessary, unfortunately undermined by the reality that human nature doesn't often quite meet the cut because we are still quite flawed. A part of the problem lies with governments who do want their people to be muted, apathetic, fragmented and powerless, because traditionally, government is about power monopoly and consolidation and they thus rationally fear liberty.
And from what I've seen in articles like the Babar Ali story and other accounts of civil society in suppressed African and Middle Eastern countries is that people do thirst desperately for knowledge, sometimes even at the expense of their own safety. We have it here in affluent Singapore as a birth right.
What Babar Ali shows us indeed is that we can be the change we want to see. Let knowledge be the light, and seek it as much as we want to be free.