GRADUATION 1987, part 2
This is the second selection of excerpts from this year's commencement addresses. The first appeared on Monday, June 15. Values and life practice
It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that we should be grateful. For a while I just wanted to run somewhere and say, I give up!
But what is going on now in the world and is personified here in our country, is a great cleansing. It's better we should be able to see it and find out what has been hidden.
Don't go around the agony. It took me years to find out that trying to avoid it doesn't work. You must simply go through the middle of it. ... Someday, somewhere, this moment of agony will be useful to you. This horror will be useful.
The killer is bitterness - the other killer is drive without real desire.
Colleen Dewhurst, actress,
Bryn Mawr College
The confrontation of the issues is best accomplished through first-hand, own-eyes experience. Yet technology has always tended to distance us from such experience. Today the so-called ``morning after'' pill... allows a woman to perform an abortion on herself with no more effort than the taking of an aspirin. Should the issue of fetal rights depend on whether an abortion is gruesome, performed with a knife, or the product of a drug's action? ...
What I am saying is that in a society where major decisions may be made by the push of a button or the ingestion of a pill, we must not lose sight of the fundamental issues. We must fight the tendency of convenience to trivialize things in our minds.
Matthew Cordes, graduating senior,
One of the most malignant aspects of the ['60s] was the extent to which everyone began to deal exclusively in symbols... marijuana was a symbol; long hair was a symbol, of course, and so was short hair; natural food was a symbol - rice, seeds, raw milk.
Now this was all very interesting. To be present at a moment when an entire society was so starved for meaning it made totems out of quite meaningless choices.
Joan Didion, author,
`Me' thinking vs. `we' thinking
So far at least, the amazing thing about the insider trading scandals is that they have found so little insider trading.
No, we do not live in an age of moral collapse. We more nearly live in an age of moral zealotry.
Robert L. Bartley, editor, Wall Street Journal,
[B]efore his fall, Ivan Boesky was resoundingly applauded in a commencement address at a major university for extolling the virtues and advantages of greed. I quote, ` Greed is all right. Greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.'
People are being told that if they find their own spontaneous feelings and act on them, all will be well. Subjectivity has been raised to a level of idolatry. Under the guise of individualism and fulfillment, people are encouraged to focus exclusively on themselves at the expense and the exclusion of the greater community. ...
We have no choice but to end the imprisonment of the self and concern ourselves with those outside our moral enclosures. We need a moral center, not a moral enclosure.
Vartan Gregorian, president, New York Public Library,
Johns Hopkins University
The life of art
As best the museums can show us, the first art that we made were round bulbous objects, really nothing more than river rocks. We call them fertility figures. I don't really believe that the male psyche would have put his layer on it in relation to it being fertility. I think a woman saw that. I think it was the female, the matriarchal part of our being that brought that into existence. I think that in bringing it into existence, in imbuing this rock with life, letting the stone represent something greater than the earth and clay it was made from, I think also it was then that science and religion came into existence.
James Surls, sculptor,
Hollywood is a small but fat fiefdom, where the marrow of artists is gouged. It has been the burial ground of many creative hopes and dreams. Stucco mau soleums dot its fields, and the tanned corpses at Malibu wonder what happened to their dreams. They settle for fat purses as they drain their souls.
There must be a place where hopes and dreams are nurtured, and that place is only within ourselves. A place to clean the grime of life, a place that waits for us to stay and look inside that we might see the truth.
Cliff Robertson, actor and director
Living, I am finding, is not letting the downside get the upper hand. As you become more experienced and adept, do not become blas'e. Boredom is our own doing. It is not done to us. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves alive. No one does this for us. ... Do not hold back. Do not be tentative. Go for it full force or stay home.
Twyla Tharp, modern dance choreographer,
I don't know if you all remember when the Carter administration kind of floated a motto to see if it was going to work: ``A New Foundation.'' ... It went very quickly. Nobody paid any attention to it.
Actually, it had been rejected by our family as a family motto, because it sounded to us like the foundation of a house and my family has a morbid fear of underpinnings from the word go. I have uncles who live in St. Joe who think they are on the San Andreas fault. I could see when they said ``A New Foundation'' some beady-eyed contractor shaking his head and saying, ``I'm afraid what you're going to need here is a whole new foundation.'' So, we had rejected that motto. We went back to the motto my family had in Kansas City when I was a kid. I commend it as an excellent family motto: ``Zip Up Your Jacket.'' We use that same motto. You might say it's been handed down.
Calvin Trillin, writer,