11
   

Commencement: "You are not special. You are not exceptional."

 
 
Linkat
 
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:02 am
Hmmm - quite a thought provoking graduation speech - it was given in one of our more affluent communities.

What are your thoughts?

A little bit more of it:

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.

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...

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

The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer...

For full speech
http://www.theswellesleyreport.com/2012/06/wellesley-high-grads-told-youre-not-special/


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Type: Discussion • Score: 11 • Views: 2,729 • Replies: 27
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:04 am
@Linkat,
This speech was considered controversal and has been a big topic of conversation around here.

Seems some parents did not like it that attended the graduation....
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:15 am
@Linkat,
about time someone said it, why people even go to graduations is beyond me
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:24 am
@djjd62,
there's cake.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:39 am
@Linkat,
Wow. There's some damn fine stuff in that speech.

Quote:
Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction.


I mentioned something like this the other day on a forum question about service learning and I was having a conversation with a friend about just such things last night:

Quote:
As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.


I think this is so true. The "what's in it for me" mentality is kind of horrifying.

Great speech. It reminds me of David Foster Wallace's commencement speech "This Is Water".

Why didn't people like it?
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:40 am
That's a pretty fabulous speech. A bit too long to get to the point, but I think it's got an overall terrific message.

Quote:
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 the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.

Because everyone is.

Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.





It's a great message for parents as well as the graduates.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:41 am
@Linkat,
Linkat wrote:
Seems some parents did not like it that attended the graduation....


seems like they could learn something from the message as well
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:42 am
@ehBeth,
yeah, but their kids are special, they spent years telling them they were
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:44 am
@djjd62,
Yanno, I've got a friend whose mother didn't allow people to praise her children for their intelligence or appearance. I used to think that was a bit harsh, but really, being praised for existing with wavy hair just doesn't make sense.
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:46 am
Two of my nieces graduated this year. I swear I sat through the same valedictorian speech twice, not to mention the countless others I've endured..
Love this one though, thanks for sharing it.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:46 am
@ehBeth,
Wait . . . what about my naturally curly hair?
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:47 am
@Setanta,
That's not your hair. That is Jenny Munro's hair.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:48 am
@ehBeth,
Point taken . . .
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 12:07 pm
@boomerang,
The reason, at least what I heard, is that a commencement speech should be inspiring and positive - almost the opposite in a sense saying you are special - you have accomplished a great thing and crap like that - stuff like you are going to be great .....
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 12:08 pm
@djjd62,
ah - exactly - there child is special....I think that is what one thing they were upset about....

And if you knew the community - they would all think their child was special and have probably been saying it to them for years.....

Unfortunately I know this personally as my daughter plays on a team where a couple of the kids come from this town. I had previously mentioned to my husband why such athletically talented kids could play so selfishly (unteamlike) and the coach lets them get away with it.
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 01:14 pm
@djjd62,
djjd62 wrote:

...why people even go to graduations is beyond me


Speaking as someone who just went to their son's graduation, people go to these events because they represent a finish line.

Often more so for the parents than for the graduates themselves.

(Terrific speech, Linkat!)
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 01:17 pm
@Linkat,
Sounds like a crowd of people who don't understand what inspirational means.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 01:22 pm
@Eva,
i would have had no problem with my folks going to the graduation, i just wish i'd missed it, i remember being supremely bored
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 01:25 pm
@Linkat,
the scariest part is not that the parents think they're special, but that the children believe the hype, sort of like the Kardashians believing they're celebrities and not just circus freaks
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 01:27 pm
@djjd62,
I was bored through most of my high school graduation, too. Of course, at that age, nearly everything was boring that didn't involve loud music, fast cars, and/or close contact with the opposite sex.
 

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