Thursday, May 20, 2010

Words that Inspire ...

... me, at least.

Working wrongful convictions is inherently discouraging business. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that, on occasion, I am discouraged.

This morning, I was drawn to a link about "The 10 Best Graduation Speeches of All Time."

Even with their vast resources, I doubt the folks at CNBC have actually reviewed each of the graduation speeches within the last year, much less all those since the beginning of time. As far as I'm concerned, this starts them off in a bit of a hole. Nonetheless, and despite their really annoying intrusive ads, and the really slow page turns, I started browsing their selected quotes from the 10 best graduation speeches of all time.

The speech by Wil Farrell was funny. Though I declare unequivocally that his movies are among the 10 worst of all time, his commencement speech was funny.

Bono's commencement speech was inspirational, at least to me. He spoke to the graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania on 17 May 2004. He made fun of himself, that a punk rock musician should be awarded a doctorate. He spoke specifically to the cause he has adopted and fought for so valiantly, the end of poverty and AIDS in Africa. He challenged the graduates to find their own cause. I offer excerpts.

"Me, I'm in love with this country called America. I'm a huge fan of America, I'm one of those annoying fans, you know the ones that read the CD notes and follow you into bathrooms and ask you all kinds of annoying questions about why you didn't live up to that.

I'm that kind of fan. I read the Declaration of Independence and I've read the Constitution of the United States, and they are some liner notes, dude. As I said yesterday I made my pilgrimage to Independence Hall, and I love America because America is not just a country, it's an idea. You see my country, Ireland, is a great country, but it's not an idea. America is an idea, but it's an idea that brings with it some baggage, like power brings responsibility. It's an idea that brings with it equality, but equality even though it's the highest calling, is the hardest to reach. The idea that anything is possible, that's one of the reasons why I'm a fan of America. It's like hey, look there's the moon up there, let's take a walk on it, bring back a piece of it. That's the kind of America that I'm a fan of."

"Every era has its defining struggle and the fate of Africa is one of ours. It's not the only one, but in the history books it's easily going to make the top five, what we did or what we did not do. It's a proving ground, as I said earlier, for the idea of equality. But whether it's this or something else, I hope you'll pick a fight and get in it. Get your boots dirty, get rough, steel your courage with a final drink there at Smoky Joe's, one last primal scream and go."

"So, my question I suppose is: What's the big idea? What's your big idea? What are you willing to spend your moral capital, your intellectual capital, your cash, your sweat equity in pursuing outside of the walls of the University of Pennsylvania?

“[M]y point is that the world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape.”

Read the entire speech here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work.

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