|"Yet the price for being yourself can never be as great as the price you
will pay for stepping aside from your basic nature: a price paid in
frustration, dissatisfaction, and the hopeless realization of all that
you might have been, but now can never attain."|
no, George. Fuck You.
when did we become so complacent? I guess this administration just figured out that they really do control everything, from the craziness of Cheney claiming the Vice-President's office is not "technically" a part of the executive branch (it is, as any 6th grader can tell you), to the recent executive order that basically claims the 5th amendment no longer exists (as well as some parts of the 1st amendment), to the action that should have made us all pay attention better, the enactment of the goddamned patriot act. we are in for a world of trouble (as if it isnt already in trouble?) if we don't start speaking up.
|The idea behind the "year zero" idea is that all culture and traditions within a
society must be completely destroyed or discarded and a new
revolutionary culture must replace it, starting from scratch. All
history of a nation or people before is largely irrelevant as it is an
attempt to throw out the old history of a nation or people and replace
it from the ground up. |
|There are three things that I very much want to say to the Class of
1994 in this brief hail and farewell. They are things which haven't
been said enough to you freshly minted graduates nor to your parents or
guardians, nor to me, nor to your teachers. I will say these in the
body of my speech, I'm just setting you up for this. |
First, I will say thank you. Second, I will say I am truly sorry - now
that is the striking novelty among the three. We live in a time when
nobody ever seems to apologize for anything; they just weep and raise
hell on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The third thing I want to say to you at
some point - probably close to the end - is, "We love you." Now if I
fail to say any of those three things in the body of this great speech,
hold up your hands, and I will remedy the deficiency.
And I'm going to ask you to hold up your hands this early in the
proceedings for another reason. I first declare to you that the most
wonderful thing, the most valuable thing you can get from an education
is this - the memory of one person who could really teach, whose
lessons made life and yourselves much more interesting and full of
possibilities than you had previously supposed possible. I ask this of
everyone here, including all of us up here on the platform - How many
of us, how many of you, had such a teacher? Kindergarten counts.
Please hold up your hands. Hurry. You may want to remember the name of
that great teacher.
I thank you for being educated. There, I've thanked you now; that way I
don't have to speak to a bunch of nincompoops. For you freshly minted
college graduates, this is a puberty ceremony long overdue. We, whose
principal achievement is that we are older than you, have to
acknowledge at last that you are grown-ups, too. there are old poops
possibly among us on this very day who will say that you are not
grown-ups until you have somehow survived, as they have, some famous
calamity - The Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, whatever.
Storytellers are responsible for this destructive, not to say suicidal,
myth. Again and again in stories, after some terrible mess, the
character is able to say at last, "Today, I am a woman; today I am a
man. The end."
When I got home from World War II, my Uncle Dan clapped me on the back,
and he said, "You're a man now." So I killed him. Not really, but I
certainly felt like doing it.
Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation? Probably not,
you just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all such tremendous
favors when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the very
end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the
beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and
Eve were so long ago.
I apologize. I said I would apologize; I apologize now. I apologize
because of the terrible mess the planet is in. But it has always been a
mess. There have never been any "Good Old Days," there have just been
days. And as I say to my grandchildren, "Don't look at me. I just got
So you know what I'm going to do? I declare everybody here a member of Generation A. Tomorrow is another day for all of us.
Having said that, I have made us, for a few hours at least, what most
of us do not have and what we need so desperately - I have made us an
extended family, one for all and all for one. A husband, a wife and
some kids is not a family; it?s a terribly vulnerable survival unit.
Now those of you who get married or are married, when you fight with
your spouse, what each of you will be saying to the other one actually
is, "You're not enough people. You're only one person. I should have
hundreds of people around."
I met a man and a wife in Nigeria - Ibos. They just had a new baby.
They had a thousand relatives there in southern Nigeria, and they were
going to take that baby around and visit all the other relatives. We
should all have families like that. Now, you take Dan and Marilyn
Quayle, who imagine themselves as a brave, clean-cut little couple.
They are surrounded by an enormous extended family, what we should all
have - I mean judges, senators, newspaper editors, lawyers, bankers.
They are not alone. And one reason they are so comfortable is that they
are members of extended families, and I would really, over the long
run, hope America would find some way to provide all of our citizens
with extended families - a large group of people they could call on for
Now, I've made us an extended family. Does our family have a flag?
Well, you bet. It's a big orange rectangle. Orange is a very good color
and maybe the best one. It's full of vitamin C and cheerful
associations, if one could forget the troubles in Ireland.
Now this gathering is a work of art. The teacher whose name I mentioned
when we all remembered good teachers asked me one time, "What is it
artists do?" And I mumbled something. "They do two things," he said.
"First, they admit they can't straighten out the whole universe. And
then second, they make at least one little part of it exactly as it
should be. A blob of clay, a square of canvas, a piece of paper, or
whatever." We have all worked so hard and well to make these moments
and this place exactly what it should be.
As I have told you, I had a bad uncle named Dan, who said a male can't
be a man unless he'd gone to war. But I had a good uncle named Alex,
who said, when life was most agreeable - and it could be just a pitcher
of lemonade in the shade - he would say, "If this isn?t nice, what is?"
So I say that about what we have achieved here right now. If he hadn't
said that so regularly, maybe five or six times a month, we might not
have paused to notice how rewarding life can be sometimes. Perhaps my
good uncle Alex will live on in some of you members of the Syracuse
Class of 1994 if, in the future, you will pause to say out loud every
so often, "If this isn't nice, what is?"
Now, my time is up and I haven't even inspired you with heroic tales of
the past - Teddy Roosevelt's cavalry charge up San Juan Hill, Desert
Storm - nor given you visions of a glorious future - computer programs,
interactive TV, the information superhighway, speed the day. I spent
too much time celebrating this very moment and place - once the future
we dreamed of so long ago. This is it. We're here. How the heck did we
A neighbor of mine, I hired him - he was a handyman - to build an "L"
on my house where I could write. He did the whole damn thing - he built
the foundation, and then the side walls and the roof. He did it all by
himself. And when it was all done, he stood back and he said, "How the
hell did I ever do that?" How the hell did we ever do this? We did it!
And if this isn't nice, what is?
I got a letter from a sappy woman a while back - she knew I was sappy
too, which is to say a lifelong Democrat. She was pregnant, and she
wanted to know if I thought it was a mistake to bring a little baby
into a world as troubled as this one is. And I replied, what made being
alive almost worthwhile for me was the saints I met. They could be
almost anywhere. By saints I meant people who behaved decently and
honorably in societies which were so often obscene. Perhaps many of us
here, regardless of our ages or power or wealth, can be saints for her
child to meet.
There was one thing I forgot to say, and I promised I would say, and that is, ''We love you. We really do.''
I hope the weather holds, |
but you don't need the sun to make you shine.
These island towns don't care for city folk,
but I think we can starve the city from our minds
I know we won't want for much,
It's just me and you and a bed and a shoreline