Skip to comments.Commencement Speech, Wellesley Collegeby Hillary Rodham
Posted on 11/22/2004 3:09:38 AM PST by PJBlogger
Commencement Speech, Wellesley College by Hillary Rodham Wellesley College - May 31, 1969
"I am very glad that Miss Adams made it clear that what I am speaking for today is all of us -- the 400 of us -- and I find myself in a familiar position, that of reacting, something that our generation has been doing for quite a while now. We're not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable task of criticizing and constructive protest and I find myself reacting just briefly to some of the things that Senator Brooke said. This has to be brief because I do have a little speech to give. Part of the problem with empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn't do us anything. We've had lots of empathy; we've had lots of sympathy, but we feel that for too long our leaders have used politics as the art of the possible. And the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.
What does it mean to hear that 13.3 percent of the people in this country are below the poverty line? That's a percentage. We're not interested in social reconstruction; it's human reconstruction. How can we talk about percentages and trends? The complexities are not lost in our analyses, but perhaps they're just put into what we consider a more human and eventually a more progressive perspective. The question about possible and impossible was one that we brought with us to Wellesley four years ago. We arrived not yet knowing what was not possible. Consequently, we expected a lot. Our attitudes are easily understood having grown up, having come to consciousness in the first five years of this decade - - years dominated by men with dreams, men in the civil rights movement, the Peace Corps, the space program - - so we arrived at Wellesley and we found, all of us have found, that there was a gap between expectation and realities. But it wasn't a discouraging gap and it didn't turn us into cynical, bitter old women at the age of 18. It just inspired us to do something about that gap.
What we did is often difficult for some people to understand. They ask us quite often, "Why, if you're dissatisfied, do you stay in a place?" Well, if you didn't care a lot about it you wouldn't stay. It's almost as though my mother used to say, "I'll always love you but there are times when I certainly won't like you." Our love for this place, this particular place, Wellesley College, coupled with our freedom from the burden of an inauthentic reality allowed us to question basic assumptions underlying our education. Before the days of the media orchestrated demonstrations, we had our own gathering over in Founder's parking lot. We protested against the rigid academic distribution requirement. We worked for a pass-fail system.
We worked for a say in some of the process of academic decision making. And luckily we were in a place where, when we questioned the meaning of a liberal arts education, there were people with enough imagination to respond to that questioning. So we have made progress. We have achieved some of the things that we initially saw as lacking in that gap between expectation and reality. Our concerns were not, of course, solely academic as all of us know. We worried about inside Wellesley questions of admissions, the kind of people that were coming to Wellesley, the kind of people that should be coming to Wellesley, the process for getting them here. We questioned about what responsibility we should have for both our lives as individuals and for our lives as members of a collective group.
Coupled with our concerns for the Wellesley inside here in the community were our concerns for what happened beyond Hathaway House. We wanted to know what relationship Wellesley was going to have to the outer world. We were lucky that one of the first things Miss Adams did was to set up a cross-registration with MIT because everyone knows that education just can't have any parochial bounds any more. One of the other things that we did was the Upward Bound program. There are so many other things that we could talk about; so many attempts, at least the way we saw it, to pull ourselves into the world outside. And I think that we've succeeded. There will be an Upward Bound program, just for one example, on the campus this summer.
Many of the issues that I've mentioned - - those of sharing power and responsibility, those of assuming power and responsibility have been general concerns on campuses throughout the world. But underlying those concerns there is a theme, a theme which is so trite and so old because the words are so familiar. It talks about integrity and trust and respect. Words have a funny way of trapping our minds on the way to our tongues but there are necessary means even in this multimedia age for attempting to come to grasps with some of the inarticulate maybe even inarticulable things that we're feeling. We are, all of us, exploring a world that none of us understands and attempting to create within that uncertainty. But there are some things we feel, feelings that our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us. We're searching for more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating modes of living. And so our questions, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue. The questions about those institutions are familiar to all of us.
We have seen heralded across the newspapers. Senator Brooke has suggested some of them this morning. But along with using those words - - integrity, trust, and respect - - in regard to institutions and leaders we're perhaps harshest with them in regard to ourselves.
Every protest, every dissent, whether it's an individual academic paper, Founder's parking lot demonstration, in unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age. That attempt at forging for many of us over the past four years has meant coming to terms with our humanness. Within the context of a society that we perceive - - now we can talk about reality, and I would like to talk about reality sometime, authentic reality, inauthentic reality, and what we have to accept of what we see -- but our perception of it is that it hovers often between the possibility of disaster and the potentiality for imaginatively responding to men's needs. There's a very strange conservative strain that goes through a lot of New Left, collegiate protests that I find very intriguing because it harkens back to a lot of the old virtues, to the fulfillment of original ideas. And it's also a very unique American experience. It's such a great adventure. If the experiment in human living doesn't work in this country, in this age, it's not going to work anywhere.
But we also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves, as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect. Those three words mean different things to all of us. Some of the things they can mean, for instance: Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know. Integrity -- a man like Paul Santmire. Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said, "Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust." What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted? All they can do is keep trying again and again and again. There's that wonderful line in East Coker by Eliot about there's only the trying, again and again and again; to win again what we've lost before.
And then respect. There's that mutuality of respect between people where you don't see people as percentage points. Where you don't manipulate people. Where you're not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. And the word "consequence" of course catapults us into the future. One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said that she wouldn't want to be me for anything in the world. She wouldn't want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she is afraid. Fear is always with us but we just don't have time for it. Not now.
There are two people I would like to thank before concluding. That's Ellie Acheson, who is the spearhead for this, and also Nancy Scheibner who wrote this poem which is the last thing I would like to read.
"My entrance into the world of so-called "social problems" Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all. The Hollow men of anger and bitterness The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation All must be left to a bygone age. And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle For all those myths and oddments Which oddly we have acquired And for which we would become unburdened To create a newer world To translate the future into the present We have no need of false revolutions In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds And hang our lives up on narrow pegs. It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives. And once those limits are understood To understand that limitations no longer exist. Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free Not to save the world in a glorious crusade Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain But to practice with all the skill of our being The art of making possible."
Ellie (Eldie) Acheson, Hillary's long term "room mate" is the one she dedicates this trash to....very interesting...bears investigating.
I thought it was her Thesis that was locked up and will never be released?
Commencement Speech.....More like a commencement curse.
That's what I thought, too.
Thanks for the Hitlery doc. I saved to my "scumbag" file.
I see she has not lost her pretentiousness from the tender age of 18.
Disappointed, but not surprised, that that speech is posted as a "gift" by my undergraduate college. Yet one more reason that I won't ever give a red cent of my money to the place, in addition to the fact that.....
1. One of my professors senior year told me that if I wasn't more quiet about my conservative views, then I would never find a professor willing to reccommend me to graduate schools.
2. The fools there told me I wouldn't get into medical school the first year I applied. I'm extraordinarily bitter about that one.
I may get flamed, but I don't really care. As a graduate of a women's liberal arts college, I find that there is nothing more useless than a women's liberal arts college.
Her really ugly Marxist writing is still locked up at Wellesley.
F..'n Jew Bast..d !
If anyone in the audience was still awake after this, he must have been deaf. I don't know what it is about Hillary, but I can't listen to more than one sentence without tuning her out. Now I see that it's not just her voice or her delivery; even just reading her is stultifying.
You're right...It is her thesis that was locked up. But that was only by a college rule. It may not be binding if a new college board deems it so.
Bump to re-read later...
How about we get her thesis released and lock her up?
"I thought it was her Thesis that was locked up and will never be released?"
NO.... there was someting else locked up and will never be released.
Just ask Bill.
Well that stuff would keep them out of jail
The Thesis could keep her from the Presidency
Monday came and went ... from Dimbaugh not one iota on Tubba's thesis. Dimbaugh reneged - plain and simple!
Of course, he also said that Tubba would never run for Senate, that Tubba was "... not part of the New York Democratic Party machine, and that Mario would not stand for it ... etc."
Sorry...I could not stomach reading the whole speech...GAG!
If we don't have a really strong candidate, the economy hits a rough spot in 2008, the War on Terror wasn't front and center, and immigration continues to be a key issue, she could win. It would only take a few percentage points swing from the last two elections, in which the 'Rats have had lousy candidates both times.
Four years is a long time in American politics. The substantial majority of voters will have long since forgotten her Marxist ways. And the main stream media sure won't go out of their way to remind them. Did you see where she's even trying to pass herself off as an Evangelical Christian? Maybe that ruse won't stick with many, but she won't stop her incessant quest for themes that will stick.
It would be tragic historic irony if she gained power on an (illegal) immigrant bashing theme, similar in tone to Hitler's Jew bashing.
Rush was wrong when he said she wouldn't run for the Senate. He was wrong again when he said she couldn't win. She won by a landslide. She lacks Bubba's folksy style, but she more than makes up for that with far greater discipline and ruthless determination.
Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society, 1962
Courtesy Office of Sen. Tom Hayden.
THE PORT HURON STATEMENT OF THE STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introductory Note: This document represents the results of several months of writing and discussion among the membership, a draft paper, and revision by the Students for a Democratic Society national convention meeting in \cf2 Port Huron\cf0 , Michigan, June 11-15, 1962. It is represented as a document with which SDS officially identifies, but also as a living document open to change with our times and experiences. It is a beginning: in our own debate and education, in our dialogue with society.
published and distributed by Students for a Democratic Society 112 East 19 Street New York 3, New York GRamercy 3-2181
INTRODUCTION: AGENDA FOR A GENERATION
We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.
When we were kids the United States was the wealthiest and strongest country in the world: the only one with the atom bomb,
the least scarred by modern war, an initiator of the United Nations that we thought would distribute Western influence throughout the world. Freedom and equality for each individual, government of, by, and for the people -- these American values we found good, principles by which we could live as men. Many of us began maturing in complacency.
As we grew, however, our comfort was penetrated by events too troubling to dismiss. First, the permeating and victimizing fact of human degradation, symbolized by the Southern struggle against racial bigotry, compelled most of us from silence to activism. Second, the enclosing fact of the Cold War, symbolized by the presence of the Bomb, brought awareness that we ourselves, and our friends, and millions of abstract "others" we knew more directly because of our common peril, might die at any time. We might deliberately ignore, or avoid, or fail to feel all other human problems, but not these two, for these were too immediate and crushing in their impact, too challenging in the demand that we as individuals take the responsibility for encounter and resolution.
While these and other problems either directly oppressed us or rankled our consciences and became our own subjective concerns, we began to see complicated and disturbing paradoxes in our surrounding America. The declaration "all men are created equal . . . rang hollow before the facts of Negro life in the South and the big cities of the North. The proclaimed peaceful intentions of the United States contradicted its economic and military investments in the Cold War status quo.
We witnessed, and continue to witness, other paradoxes. With nuclear energy whole cities can easily be powered, yet the dominant nationstates seem more likely to unleash destruction greater than that incurred in all wars of human history. Although our own technology is destroying old and creating new forms of social organization, men still tolerate meaningless work and idleness. While two-thirds of mankind suffers undernourishment, our own upper classes revel amidst superfluous abundance. Although world population is expected to double in forty years, the nations still tolerate anarchy as a major principle of international conduct and uncontrolled exploitation governs the sapping of the earth's physical resources. Although mankind desperately needs revolutionary leadership, America rests in national stalemate, its goals ambiguous and tradition-bound instead of informed and clear, its democratic system apathetic and manipulated rather than "of, by, and for the people."
Not only did tarnish appear on our image of American virtue, not only did disillusion occur when the hypocrisy of American ideals was discovered, but we began to sense that what we had originally seen as the American Golden Age was actually the decline of an era. The worldwide outbreak of revolution against colonialism and imperialism, the entrenchment of totalitarian states, the menace of war, overpopulation, international disorder, supertechnology -- these trends were testing the tenacity of our own commitment to democracy and freedom and our abilities to visualize their application to a world in upheaval.
Our work is guided by the sense that we may be the last generation in the experiment with living. But we are a minority -- the vast majority of our people regard the temporary equilibriums of our society and world as eternally-functional parts. In this is perhaps the outstanding paradox: we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet the message of our society is that there is no viable alternative to the present. Beneath the reassuring tones of the politicians, beneath the common opinion that America will "muddle through", beneath the stagnation of those who have closed their minds to the future, is the pervading feeling that there simply are no alternatives, that our times have witnessed the exhaustion not only of Utopias, but of any new departures as well. Feeling the press of complexity upon the emptiness of life, people are fearful of the thought that at any moment things might thrust out of control. They fear change itself, since change might smash whatever invisible framework seems to hold back chaos for them now. For most Americans, all crusades are suspect, threatening. The fact that each individual sees apathy in his fellows perpetuates the common reluctance to organize for change. The dominant institutions are complex enough to blunt the minds of their potential critics, and entrenched enough to swiftly dissipate or entirely repel the energies of protest and reform, thus limiting human expectancies. Then, too, we are a materially improved society, and by our own improvements we seem to have weakened the case for further change.
Some would have us believe that Americans feel contentment amidst prosperity -- but might it not better be called a glaze above deeplyfelt anxieties about their role in the new world? And if these anxieties produce a developed indifference to human affairs, do they not as well produce a yearning to believe there is an alternative to the present, that something can be done to change circumstances in the school, the workplaces, the bureaucracies, the government? It is to this latter yearning, at once the spark and engine of change, that we direct our present appeal. The search for truly democratic alternatives to the present, and a commitment to social experimentation with them, is a worthy and fulfilling human enterprise, one which moves us and, we hope, others today. On such a basis do we offer this document of our convictions and analysis: as an effort in understanding and changing the conditions of humanity in the late twentieth century, an effort rooted in the ancient, still unfulfilled conception of man attaining determining influence over his circumstances of life.
Making values explicit -- an initial task in establishing alternatives -
* is an activity that has been devalued and corrupted. The conventional moral terms of the age, the politician moralities -- "free world", "people's democracies" -- reflect realities poorly, if at all, and seem to function more as ruling myths than as descriptive principles. But neither has our experience in the universities brought as moral enlightenment. Our professors and administrators sacrifice controversy to public relations; their curriculums change more slowly than the living events of the world; their skills and silence are purchased by investors in the arms race; passion is called unscholastic. The questions we might want raised -- what is really important? can we live in a different and better way? if we wanted to change society, how would we do it? -- are not thought to be questions of a "fruitful, empirical nature", and thus are brushed aside.
Unlike youth in other countries we are used to moral leadership being exercised and moral dimensions being clarified by our elders. But today, for us, not even the liberal and socialist preachments of the past seem adequate to the forms of the present. Consider the old slogans; Capitalism Cannot Reform Itself, United Front Against Fascism, General Strike, All Out on May Day. Or, more recently, No Cooperation with Commies and Fellow Travellers, Ideologies Are Exhausted, Bipartisanship, No Utopias. These are incomplete, and there are few new prophets. It has been said that our liberal and socialist predecessors were plagued by vision without program, while our own generation is plagued by program without vision. All around us there is astute grasp of method, technique -- the committee, the ad hoc group, the lobbyist, that hard and soft sell, the make, the projected image -- but, if pressed critically, such expertise is incompetent to explain its implicit ideals. It is highly fashionable to identify oneself by old categories, or by naming a respected political figure, or by explaining "how we would vote" on various issues.
Theoretic chaos has replaced the idealistic thinking of old -- and, unable to reconstitute theoretic order, men have condemned idealism itself. Doubt has replaced hopefulness -- and men act out a defeatism that is labeled realistic. The decline of utopia and hope is in fact one of the defining features of social life today. The reasons are various: the dreams of the older left were perverted by Stalinism and never recreated; the congressional stalemate makes men narrow their view of the possible; the specialization of human activity leaves little room for sweeping thought; the horrors of the twentieth century, symbolized in the gas-ovens and concentration camps and atom bombs, have blasted hopefulness. To be idealistic is to be considered apocalyptic, deluded. To have no serious aspirations, on the contrary, is to be "toughminded".
In suggesting social goals and values, therefore, we are aware of entering a sphere of some disrepute. Perhaps matured by the past, we have no sure formulas, no closed theories -- but that does not mean values are beyond discussion and tentative determination. A first task of any social movement is to convenience people that the search for orienting theories and the creation of human values is complex but worthwhile. We are aware that to avoid platitudes we must analyze the concrete conditions of social order. But to direct such an analysis we must use the guideposts of basic principles. Our own social values involve conceptions of human beings, human relationships, and social systems.
We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love. In affirming these principles we are aware of countering perhaps the dominant conceptions of man in the twentieth century: that he is a thing to be manipulated, and that he is inherently incapable of directing his own affairs. We oppose the depersonalization that reduces human beings to the status of things -- if anything, the brutalities of the twentieth century teach that means and ends are intimately related, that vague appeals to "posterity" cannot justify the mutilations of the present. We oppose, too, the doctrine of human incompetence because it rests essentially on the modern fact that men have been "competently" manipulated into incompetence -- we see little reason why men cannot meet with increasing skill the complexities and responsibilities of their situation, if society is organized not for minority, but for majority, participation in decision-making.
Men have unrealized potential for self-cultivation, self-direction, self-understanding, and creativity. It is this potential that we regard as crucial and to which we appeal, not to the human potentiality for violence, unreason, and submission to authority. The goal of man and society should be human independence: a concern not with image of popularity but with finding a meaning in life that is personally authentic: a quality of mind not compulsively driven by a sense of powerlessness, nor one which unthinkingly adopts status values, nor one which represses all threats to its habits, but one which has full, spontaneous access to present and past experiences, one which easily unites the fragmented parts of personal history, one which openly faces problems which are troubling and unresolved: one with an intuitive awareness of possibilities, an active sense of curiosity, an ability and willingness to learn.
This kind of independence does not mean egoistic individualism -- the object is not to have one's way so much as it is to have a way that is one's own. Nor do we deify man -- we merely have faith in his potential.
Human relationships should involve fraternity and honesty. Human interdependence is contemporary fact; human brotherhood must be willed however, as a condition of future survival and as the most appropriate form of social relations. Personal links between man and man are needed, especially to go beyond the partial and fragmentary bonds of function that bind men only as worker to worker, employer to employee, teacher to student, American to Russian.
Loneliness, estrangement, isolation describe the vast distance between man and man today. These dominant tendencies cannot be overcome by better personnel management, nor by improved gadgets, but only when a love of man overcomes the idolatrous worship of things by man.
As the individualism we affirm is not egoism, the selflessness we affirm is not self-elimination. On the contrary, we believe in generosity of a kind that imprints one's unique individual qualities in the relation to other men, and to all human activity. Further, to dislike isolation is not to favor the abolition of privacy; the latter differs from isolation in that it occurs or is abolished according to individual will. Finally, we would replace power and personal uniqueness rooted in possession, privilege, or circumstance by power and uniqueness rooted in love, reflectiveness, reason, and creativity.
As a social system we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual participation, governed by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the media for their common participation.
In a participatory democracy, the political life would be based in several root principles:
* that decision-making of basic social consequence be carried on by public groupings;
* that politics be seen positively, as the art of collectively creating an acceptable pattern of social relations;
* that politics has the function of bringing people out of isolation and into community, thus being a necessary, though not sufficient, means of finding meaning in personal life;
* that the political order should serve to clarify problems in a way instrumental to their solution; it should provide outlets for the expression of personal grievance and aspiration; opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate choices and facilities the attainment of goals; channels should be commonly available to related men to knowledge and to power so that private problems -- from bad recreation facilities to personal alienation -- are formulated as general issues.
The economic sphere would have as its basis the principles:
* that work should involve incentives worthier than money or survival. It should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; selfdirect, not manipulated, encouraging independence; a respect for others, a sense of dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibility, since it is this experience that has crucial influence on habits, perceptions and individual ethics;
* that the economic experience is so personally decisive that the individual must share in its full determination;
* that the economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation.
Like the political and economic ones, major social institutions -- cultural, education, rehabilitative, and others -- should be generally organized with the well-being and dignity of man as the essential measure of success.
In social change or interchange, we find violence to be abhorrent because it requires generally the transformation of the target, be it a human being or a community of people, into a depersonalized object of hate. It is imperative that the means of violence be abolished and the institutions -- local, national, international -- that encourage nonviolence as a condition of conflict be developed.
These are our central values, in skeletal form. It remains vital to understand their denial or attainment in the context of the modern world.
In the last few years, thousands of American students demonstrated that they at least felt the urgency of the times. They moved actively and directly against racial injustices, the threat of war, violations of individual rights of conscience and, less frequently, against economic manipulation. They succeeded in restoring a small measure of controversy to the campuses after the stillness of the McCarthy period. They succeeded, too, in gaining some concession
The first of many speeches in her "Run for the Roses".
Rub it in with a vengeance. It will feel good to both of us.
I got a "nameless, gnawing pain" reading this boring tripe.
Hillary "Do-harm" Rodham
It's a JOB taking down America.
But somebodys got to do it!
What a wretched, pitiful, revolting speech!! Did anyone actually stay awake, and if so did they toss their cookies all over their laps???? This woman is hideous, and she was from the very beginning!