Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pursue Happiness, But Kindness Most of All

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke at my commencement ceremony. It was fun to see such a high profile figure, who is intensely involved in global affairs, give a talk to the many graduates of the international studies program I was in, but I would have much preferred to hear a different address, one from George Saunders. He gave it at Syracuse this year. It is a remarkable take on the typical staid commencement address. Here is an excerpt, but you can read the rest at the link below:
Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
The rest of the speech. Hat tip to my mom, who sent this my way today.

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