Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Valedictory Address Reprisal: Modified

As we sit here today justifiably proud of all we have endured and accomplished to earn the right to wear cap and gown, we must remember that with rights come responsibilities. Education opens the mind to the workings of the world, and the vast possibilities and problems within it. Just as it may take the voice of one professor to open the mind of a student, so too, do you now carry the weighty responsibility to judiciously use your own voice. Develop a social conscience. Develop an environmental conscience. Take an interest and accept some responsibility for what goes on around you. If there is something that needs saying, whether protest, agreement, warning, or celebration, make yourself heard. If no one listens, yell, scream, rage if you must, but be heard! Human beings are murdered as others listen and do nothing. Our rainforests and wildlife are disappearing. Adults and children are homeless and starving. Our youth are killing each other in the streets. The same streets where crime runs rampant. We cannot be afraid to advocate for what we know is right. Damn the repercussions, damn the controversy, and damn the gossip. We cannot accept, ignore or insulate ourselves from reality. In this country so many have put their lives on the line for freedom. We are a country that prizes, cherishes and protects freedom of speech. Why then, do we spend our lives so afraid to speak up, to speak out? It has been said, that life is a series of choices. If this is true, then I beg of you, choose to use the gift that is your voice. Use it as a caress when appropriate, and a sword when necessary. But do not remain one of the silent majority. Silence, is not always golden.
My closing thoughts to you are these:
Challenge the status quo. Go where no person has gone before. Dare to stand in the line of fire. And above all, refuse to be intimidated.

Writers note: This address was appropriate oh so many years ago, and is equally appropriate today. Not only for new college graduates, but for all who inhabit this planet.

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