If you're not knitting, the terrorists win

(My mostly on-topic ramblings about knitting. And life in general. My life in specific.)

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle aged mother of 2 grown children and wife to a man who doesn't seem to mind my almost heroin-like yarn addiction. I spend my time writing, knitting, and generally stressing out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Graduation Speeches

I, like many of you probably, went to a graduation recently. This one was short, as far as those ceremonies go, and pretty nice. But one thing that struck me was the quality of the graduation speeches.

Full disclosure: I have not ever given a graduation speech. But I have, in fact, given plenty of other competitive speeches. In fact, my speech winnings and my articles (features, reviews, and news) pretty much paid for my college expenses. But, even if I didn't have that writer's background, I would feel this way as an audience member.

When I was a young Patgirl, graduation speeches were meant to reminisce and inpire. They were designed to say "This is where we've been and it's been great. But the doors are open to us now and we can go out and do whatever we choose to do!" And any speech given by a guest was meant to be encouraging, uplifting, and--uh--inspirational as well.

I notice, more and more though, that the speeches are... Well, let me just give you an example from the last commencement I went to. There were three speeches. The first was from a student. It was a reminiscing speech. That's fine.

The second was from a faculty member. It went something like this: "Before you leave campus buy this book by Dr. Seuss--Oh The Places You'll Go." Now she quoted about two pages of the book. Then she rephrased those two pages in relation to graduating college. Then she quoted another 8-10 lines and rephrased those. Then quoted another big chunk and rephrased it. In all, I think her speech might have been about 65% quoting Dr. Seuss.

The third speech was from a dean. He quoted a commencement address given by Robert Kennedy to a graduating class. Are you getting that? He quoted someone else's graduation speech. A lot. I would say his speech was 50% Robert Kennedy's graduation speech. Now come on.

The problem I have with these last two speeches is-- Well, okay. I have a couple of problems. The first is that they're just not very good speeches. Not very inspiring. Now, don't misunderstand--Dr. Seuss is inspiring. Robert Kennedy was inspiring. But to try and be inspiring by just repeating what they said? Seems watered down at best.

It seems like lazy writing. And I think that sends exactly the wrong message to a graduating class.


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