BELTON, Texas - Former President George W. Bush returned to Central Texas Wednesday.
The 43rd Commander in Chief spoke at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as part of the McLane Lecture series.
Hope was the focus of the former president's speech. Bush urged those who packed into the university's arena to not let defeat or doubt define what can be achieved. It's a lesson bush said he learned early in his political career; which he detailed in a humorous story about launching his first major bid for office.
"I called mother and said I'm running for governor against Ann Richards, and she said you are not going to win," he told the crowd.
The comment brought laughs, but serious topics were also mentioned. The former president talked about the current crisis with Islamic radicals.
"Evil is real. There is no light grey. Murdering innocent people to move a political point of view has been, is, and always will be evil," said Bush.
It was no surprise, said Bush, when extremist recently launched an attack in France. That case and others is why he believes the lessons he learned after the 9-11 attacks are relevant today.
"So one of the real dangers is an isolationist tendency," said Bush.
He warned becoming less dependent on Middle Eastern oil should not be an excuse for withdrawing from that region, he argued there are political, humanitarian and national security reasons for staying.
"And so when the pressure is off, they strike in order to frighten us who believe in freedom," he said.
Bush also said history has shown that people who follow a brutal and warlike belief do have the capacity of changing. He explained that by noting how his father once fought Imperial Japan during WWII, but now that Island Nation has embraced democracy and is one of our strongest allies. That message of hope seemed to stick with many of those on this conservative Central Texas campus.
"There is peace there, it could possible happen again there is that hope for that," said UMHB Senior Katlyn Dryer.
The former president also indirectly offered advice to current political leaders. He urged them to always seek advice and to listen, even to those they don't agree with.