Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can't remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
They who once engage in iniquitous designs miserably deceive themselves when they think that they will go so far and no farther; one fault begets another, one crime renders another necessary; and thus they are impelled continually downward into a depth of guilt, which at the commencement of their career they would have died rather than have incurred.
The way in which the persecution of Galileo has been remembered is a tribute to the quiet commencement of the most intimate change in outlook which the human race had yet encountered. Since a babe was born in a manger, it may be doubted whether so great a thing has happened with so little stir
Alfred North Whitehead
In 1986, our commencement speaker was George Schultz, secretary of state, fourth in line to the president. You get me-basic cable's second most popular fake newsman. At this rate, the class of 2021 will be addressed by a zoo parrot in a mortar-board that has been trained to say "congratulations.
The affair seems absurdly trifling, and yet I dare call nothing trivial when I reflect that some of my most classic cases have had the least promising commencement. You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.
Arthur Conan Doyle
For Texas, a wise and prudent administration in the commencement of her national existence will be universally expected, imposing upon me the difficult and delicate task of setting in complete and successful operation a political body based upon principles so hazardously asserted and so gloriously maintained.
If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. [Commencement Address at American University, June 10 1963]
John F. Kennedy
I grew up very differently than a lot of other people in my hometown in Mississippi. But I can't imagine my life any other way. I flew home and surprised my best friend at his graduation, and I remember turning to my mom and saying, 'My graduation was so much cooler than this.' I had Melissa Joan Hart give my commencement speech.
The closing period of the fifteenth century witnessed the slow but sure increase of the churches of the Brethren. Although far from being unmolested, they yet enjoyed comparative rest. At the commencement of the sixteenth century their churches numbered two hundred in Bohemia and Moravia.
Ezra Hall Gillett
Upon the whole, therefore, she found, what has been sometimes found before, that an event to which she had looked forward with impatient desire, did not in taking place, bring all the satisfaction she had promised herself. It was consequently necessary to name some other period for the commencement of actual felicity; to have some other point on which her wishes and hopes might be fixed, and by again enjoying the pleasure of anticipation, console herself for the present, and prepare for another disappointment.
In my commencement address I gave the language and sources of the prophetic utterance made by the Prophet Joseph that the Constitution of the United States would hang by a single thread, but be saved by the elders of Israel. I hope you will read those sources so you will be well-informed as to this prophecy and be prepared to do your part in its fulfillment.
Ernest L. Wilkinson
Every story has already been told. Once you've read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Wrinkle in Time, you understand that there is really no reason to ever write another novel. Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has ever had." [Commencement Speech; Mount Holyoke College, May 23, 1999]
Death is not "an eternal sleep!" Citizens! efface from the tomb that motto, graven by sacrilegious hands, which spreads over all nature a funereal crape, takes from oppressed innocence its support, and affronts the beneficent dispensation of death! Inscribe rather thereon these words: "Death is the commencement of immortality!
The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie-deliberate, contrived and dishonest-but the myth-persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. [Commencement Address at Yale University, June 11 1962]
John F. Kennedy
I need scarcely say that the beginning and maintenance of life on earth is absolutely and infinitely beyond the range of all sound speculation in dynamical science. The only contribution of dynamics to theoretical biology is absolute negation of automatic commencement or automatic maintenance of life.
If God created the universe, there was a time when he commenced to create. Back of that commencement there must have been an eternity. In that eternity what was this God doing? He certainly did not think. There was nothing to think about. He did not remember. Nothing had ever happened. What did he do? Can you imagine anything more absurd than an infinite intelligence in infinite nothing wasting an eternity?
Robert G. Ingersoll
Day n night passing by, No tribute, we cannot deny, We did to world's problems so deep, Not a single sign, to take the leap. Senseless striving for some unknown glory, Too patiently awaiting time for our story. Still haven't spot that light, That make us seem calm n bright. How to ensure tis time-being, Is not in vain, but commencement of freeing.
With whomsoever or wheresoever may rest the present causes of difficulty that apparently exist towards either the completion of the old engine, or the commencement of the new one, we trust they will not ultimately result in this generation's being acquainted with these inventions through the medium of pen, ink and paper merely; and still more do we hope, that for the honour of our country's reputation in the future pages of history, these causes will not lead to the completion of the undertaking by some other nation or government.
As an innovation... the establishment of Free Schools was the boldest ever promulgated, since the commencement of the Christian era... Time has ratified its soundness. Two centuries proclaim it to be as wise as it was courageous, as beneficient as it was disinterested. It was one of those grand mental and moral experiments... The sincerity of our gratitude must be tested by our efforts to perpetuate and improve what they established. The gratitude of the lips only is an unholy offering.
The profession of a prostitute is the only career in which the maximum income is paid to the newest apprentice. It is the one calling in which at the beginning the only exertion is that of self-indulgence; all the prizes are at the commencement. It is the ever-new embodiment of the old fable of the sale of the soul to the Devil. The tempter offers wealth, comfort, excitement, but in return the victim must sell her soul, nor does the other party forget to exact his due to the uttermost farthing.
That dog is mine said those poor children; that place in the sun is mine; such is the beginning and type of usurpation throughout the earth.[Fr., Ce chien est a moi, disaient ces pauvres enfants; c'est la ma place au soleil. Voila le commencement et l'image de l'usurpation de toute la terre.]
We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us understands... searching for a more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating mode of living... for the integrity, the courage to be whole, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences... Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it. -Commencement Speech, Wellesley 1969
Hillary Rodham Clinton
We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us understands...searching for a more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating mode of living...for the integrity, the courage to be whole, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences...Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it. -Commencement Speech, Wellesley 1969
I was never educated to be an actor. I went to a regular college. It was a great thing for me because I feel that the main thing to get out of college is a thirst for knowledge. College should teach you how to be curious. Most people think that college is the end of education, but it isn't. The ceremony of giving you the diploma is called commencement. And that means you are fit to commence learning because you have learned hot to learn.
One may decide that the nipple most nearly resembles a newly ripened raspberry (never, be it noted, the plonk of water on a pond at the commencement of a drizzle, a simple bladder nozzle built on the suction principal gum bubble, mole, or birth ward, bumpy metal button, or the painful red eruption of a swelling), but does one care to see his breakfast fruit as a sweetened milky bowl of snipped nips? no.
William H. Gass
Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women." [Commencement Address, Wellesley College, 1996]
We don't have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that's what I want in life. What I'm grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I'm scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow after Commencement and leave this place. 'It's not quite love and it's not quite community; it's just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it's four A.M. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can't remember. That time we did, we went , we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.
Broad-Based Education: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country... I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this... It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. -Commencement address, Stanford University, June 12, 2005
There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father's palace. To the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing from his sins and infirmities. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory.
[A]s a commencement the Lord appeared unto Joseph Smith, both the Father and the Son, the Father pointing to the Son said, "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him" Here then, was a communication from the heavens made known unto man on the earth, and he at that time came into possession of a fact that no man knew in the world but he, and that is that God lived, for he had seen him, and that his Son Jesus Christ lived, for he also had seen him.
Dont teach my boy poetry, an English mother recently wrote the Provost of Harrow. Dont teach my boy poetry; he is going to stand for Parliament. Well, perhaps she was rightbut if more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place to live on this Commencement Day of 1956.
John F. Kennedy
One must search diligently to find laudatory comments on education (other than those pious platitudes which are fodder for commencement speeches). It appears that most persons who have achieved fame and success in the world of ideas are cynical about formal education. These people are a select few, who often achieved success in spite of their education, or even without it. As has been said, the clever largely educate themselves, those less able aren't sufficiently clever or imaginative to benefit much from education.
In matters of affection, the rules of engagement at Empire High were detailed yet unambiguous, an extension of procedures established in junior high, a set of guidelines that couldn't have been clearer if they'd been posted on the schoolhouse door. If you were a girl and your heart inclined toward a particular boy, you had one of your girlfriends make inquiries from one of that boy's friends. Such contact represented the commencement of a series of complex negotiations, the opening rounds of which were handled by friends. Boy's friend A might report to Girl's friend B that the boy in question considered her a fox, or, if he felt particularly strongly, a major fox. Those experienced in these matters knew that it was wise to proceed cautiously, since too much ardor could delay things for weeks. The girl in question might be in negotiations with other parties, and no boy wanted to be on record as considering a girl a major fox only to discover that she considered him merely cool. Friends had to be instructed carefully about how much emotional currency they could spend, since rogue emotions led to inflation, lessening the value of everyone's feelings. Once a level of affection within the comfort zone of both parties was agreed upon, the principals could then meet for the exchange of mementos - rings, jackets, photos, key chains - to seal the deal, always assuming that seconds had properly represented the lovers to begin with.
Et voile . Maintenant le ressort est bande. Cela n'a plus qu'e se derouler tout seul. C'est cela qui est commode dans la tragedie. On donne le petit coup de pouce pour que cela demarre, rien, un regard pendant une seconde e une fille qui passe et le¨ve les bras dans la rue, une envie d'honneur un beau matin, au reveil, comme de quelque chose qui se mange, une question de trop qu'on se pose un soir... C'est tout. Apre¨s, on n'a plus qu'e laisser faire. On est tranquille. Cela roule tout seul. C'est minutieux, bien huile depuis toujours. La mort, la trahison, le desespoir sont le , tout preªts, et les eclats, et les orages, et les silences, tous les silences : le silence quand le bras du bourreau se le¨ve e la fin, le silence au commencement quand les deux amants sont nus l'un en face de l'autre pour la premie¨re fois, sans oser bouger tout de suite, dans la chambre sombre, le silence quand les cris de la foule eclatent autour du vainqueur - et on dirait un film dont le son s'est enraye, toutes ces bouches ouvertes dont il ne sort rien, toute cette clameur qui n'est qu'une image, et le vainqueur, deje vaincu, seul au milieu de son silence...