Wednesday, June 17, 2009

do you take time to look at the stars?

I came across the Commencement Address given to the Class of 2009, University of Portland. It blew me away. Paul Hawken (author, environmentalist,& entrepreneur) was told to give a short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful."

Boy did he ever.

Here are some excerpts from his speech that took my breath away.

"When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you
look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand
the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor,
and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary
people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some
semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world."

"Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every
thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions
overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars
come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that
threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each
of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we
have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing,
stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They
didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every
moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss.
The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense
when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life
depends on it."

How magical to be a graduating senior and have this as your commencement speech. I wish I could have been there.
photo found via le love


Kimberly Julie said...

This speech is so remarkably inspiring...

I would have loved to have this as my commencement address instead of the ring-winged fool who spoke to my fellow UGA grads and I last month. Le sigh.

Jenny said...

You'd be proud...3 weekends ago, I went out on my deck at sunset and stayed out there until midnight just watching the stars, drinking some wine, and listening to Van MOrrison/Otis Redding/Allman Brothers. One of the most enjoyable and impactful nights in a long time simply because I just "took" the time.
P.S.- I love Phil Mickelson
P.S.S.- Did you see Marc Chardon's blog about this speech? It was good to read that it impacted him as much as it impacted you (us).

Tracy-Girl said...

Such beautiful quotes... something to live by! Definitely a good commencement ceremony!

A "cheery" disposition said...

Lovely post. and lovely picture.