Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Commencement Speech - You Are Not Special

Be careful what you hear. We tend to selectively hear only things that validate our opinion and sense of liking. We like to hear messages that tickle our ears, telling us that we deserve it, we are strong, and we are special. Aren't we the contender? Imagine that you are one out of the millions sperms that being dispensed, and you're the one who swim victoriously towards the egg? But hey, listen more carefully please: there are 6.8 billions sperm that manage to do that too, and more are following. That is why when one commencement speaker states that we are not special, the whole world throws a tantrum and gasp in disbelief.

How could he? 

How dare he? 

Yes, what rarely said and often only heard in a faint whisper is the line after that: how could he tell that disturbing truth that soon? How dare he shatter the beautiful yet misconstrued pictures that we have been constructing for this little child - that he is the most special and that the world revolve around him?

This speech is an appropriate wake up call not only for these children, but also for all of us. Listen to what David McCullough Jr, an English speaker from Wellesley High School has to say during this commencement speech. 

Here are some of my favorites:

'Yes, you've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You've been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You've been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we've been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your tweet. ... And now you've conquered high school ... and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community ...

But do not get the idea you're anything special. Because you're not.'

'Your planet ... is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it'

'Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It's what happens when you're thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion- and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joy of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special. 

Because everyone is'

See this for complete transcript

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