…via the Pioneer Valley.
Smith College had a semi-lackluster but very pretty speech from Sylvia Earle for Commencement 2011. Her (speech’s) Prochlorococcus and “hope-aholic” bits were cute and yet (too) specific. Mount Holyoke managed to get my lady crush, MARTHA NUSSBAUM (!!!), and I was green with envy. She is a whiff of win.
"Socrates…defended himself against the charge of corrupting the young by saying that democracy needs citizens who could think for themselves."
"The global market, which just sees human lives as instruments for vain. If our classrooms don’t build a richer network of human connections, it’s likely that our dealings with one another will be mediated by the impoverished norms of market exchange and profit-making…Becoming good citizens in a complex, interlocking world involves understanding the ways in which common needs and aims are differently realized in different circumstances."
"Work toward a world in which we do see other lives as spacious and deep, rather than simply as occasions for enrichment." Re: Ralph Ellison and literature’s role in our personal growth
"Graduation is not the end of a liberal education, but merely the beginning…May you live joyful and productive lives in our complicated world, taking your education out there with you and fighting to keep it alive for others."
Needless to say, Nussbaum’s speech trumps Smith’s Commencement speech (and it also touches on environmental concerns, which were the sole purpose of Earle’s) so I’d like to adopt Matha Nussbaum’s speech as my 2011 commencement message…ok Moho, you did good with Martha, and compensated for the unseemly, silly low-blow in 5:55.
And I’d like some of Gloria Steinem's feminist tude from 2007 too.
"But raising young children — or being raised to raise children — is the way men are most likely to develop their own full circle of human qualities, and stop reproducing the prison of the ‘masculine’ role."
"We weren’t trying to change the world to fit women — and neither was Smith in those days — we were trying to change ourselves to fit the world. If this seems hard to believe now, think of my two most famous age peers: Marilyn Monroe, who literally feared aging more than death, and Smith’s own Sylvia Plath, whose own world-class talent couldn’t give her the autonomy she needed to survive…Like the swing of a compass arm, I invite you to measure the progress made in the time between my graduating class and yours, and project into the future same distance."
"If we were to raise even one generation of children without violence and without shaming, we have no idea what might be possible."
I’m adding my favorite commencement speech while at Smith. It was made by Margaret Edson in 2008, and stays with me still.
"Everything meaningful about this moment, and these four years,
will be meaningful inside you, not outside you…If you can point to something, you might lose it, or you might break it, or someone might take it from you. As long as you store it inside yourself, it’s not going anywhere — or it’s going everywhere with you.”
"This day is a day of love. It’s a day of your family’s love for you, your love for each other and your teachers, and your teachers’ love for you. In time, the bar graphs may tumble, the clay tablets may crumble. They’re only made of clay. But our love is here to stay."
As far as a senior’s perspective on graduating college, Daniel J. Cluchey of Amherst College, did a damn good job. You’ll like (his bit) on perspective.
All of you, thank you for your thoughts.