Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Comments to Grads

What the people of fame had to say to this year’s college graduates!
by Charlie Leck

One of my favorite features in the Sunday New York Times at this time each year is the review of comments made by the famous people who are invited to speak at college graduation ceremonies all across the nation. (By the way, I find it difficult to get through a Sunday without my New York Times. It is such an extraordinary newspaper to fiddle around in for an entire week.)

There are so many collegiate graduation ceremonies every spring that it is difficult for some colleges to find worthy speakers – and sometimes they don’t (find worthy speakers, that is).

Let me just reproduce a few of the more interesting and/or entertaining comments for you (as published in the NY Times). I tend to enjoy those comments that are the most candid and honest, like these… (I especially like the comment below by Michael Lewis.

[at Goucher College, from Ira Glass, radio host on Chicago Public Radio and National Public Radio…]
“I lost my virginity in one of the dorms here. Not recently.”

[at Princeton, from author Michael LewisMoney Ball, Blind Side, The Big Short and others…]
“People recently don’t like to hear success explained away as luck, especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives… Recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck, and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky...
“I was almost certainly less prepared for the marketplace than most of you. Yet somehow I have wound up rich and famous.”

[at the University of Pennsylvania, from Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone…]
“…My question to you is, do you care about those who won’t make it without real help? You have been at Penn preparing to enter the big game of life, and I have a most wondrous proposition for you. Come join our team. We’re losing. Yes that’s right, we’re losing.”

[at Southern Methodist University from Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State…]
“At those times when you’re absolutely sure that you’re right, talk with someone who disagrees. And if you constantly find yourself in the company of those who say ‘amen’ to everything that you say, find other company.”

[from Corey Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ…]
“My dad would always tease me: ‘Boy, don’t walk around here like you hit a triple. You were born on third base, boy.’ I drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty that I did not dig. I eat lavishly from banquet tables prepared for me by my ancestors. I sit under the shade of trees that were planted and cultivated and cared for by those who I will never know.”

Geez, some commencement speeches are worth listening to. If we had only been old enough and wise enough to know that we should listen; but we were young turks who thought we knew it all – even though we had it all yet to learn.

I remember not a word from the commencement addresses at my college and graduate school. I probably didn’t listen. Now if the speaker, a pretty woman, had nodded toward one of the dormitories and announced that she had lost her virginity in that residence, I may have sat up and listened.

Should I address a college graduating class, I think I might say this…

So you think you’ve learned a lot in your years here. [Here I’d snicker!] Well, let me tell you, you know nothin’ now compared to what you are about to learn in the coming years. You’re gonna learn that you should’a listened more carefully… and read more comprehensively… and practiced with greater seriousness. But don’t fret about it! You’ll figure it out soon enough because you’ll have to in order to survive. Life is gonna’ smack you upside the head and he’ll push all his chips into the center of the table and dare you to get into the game… or tell you to get out of it.

I’m tellin’ you straight, man! I’m tellin’ you straight. If you want to be a winner, you’ve got to give up yourself and get in the game. Push all your chips into the center of the table and say it proud: “I’m in!”

It’s somethin’ like what Jesus said: “He who loses his life will save it!”

Whatever that means!

I’m still tryin’ to figger it out! So, don’t ask me to explain it to yuh! But, I think he was on to something – or was he on something?

Well, I’ve got to make a couple of speeches in Mississippi in the coming week – a little different than a commencement address, however. I’ll be chatting with folks who have already pushed their chips into the center of the table and made all their bets. Some have won and some have lost. I’ll share with you next week some of the things I say to them about justice and liberty and the American dream. I am not, however, going to tell them where I lost my virginity.

Why not become a follower?
If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

No comments:

Post a Comment