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Ira Glass為2012年Goucher大學畢業生演講

Ira Glass Commencement Address to Goucher College Class of 2012

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Ira Glass

2012年5月18日演講

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恆

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後製:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講(來源Goucher College

國際公共廣播電台節目《This American Life》製作人兼主持人Ira Glass,於2012年5月18日星期五舉行的Goucher大學第121屆畢業典禮上獲頒榮譽學位,並為畢業生演講。

 

關於Ira Glass(來源Wikipedia

Ira Glass(1959年3月3日出生)是美國公共廣播電台的靈魂人物,也是廣播及電視節目《This American Life》主持人兼製作人。

 

Ira Glass為2012年Goucher大學畢業生演講

 

很榮幸邀請到我們的畢業典禮演講者-Ira Glass。

 

(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

校董會委員、各位家長、全體教職員、各位來賓、Ungar校長,很榮幸受邀擔任你們的畢業典禮演講者。原則上,我對畢業演講依然持反對態度(笑聲)。我認為這是個刻板的儀式,既無聊又沒建設性。畢業演講者提供陳腔濫調的建議,不久後就被忘的一乾二淨(笑聲)。畢業演講的主要任務本身就是件荒謬的事,在學生不需要鼓勵時硬要這麼做。請審視此刻的自己:你們即將大展鴻圖,世界展開雙臂歡迎你們;你們一直過著學校生活,你們已完成一些需要努力不懈才能克服的挑戰。或許你們會產生自我懷疑,一次又一次地。現在你們即將踏出校門,迎向世界,實現長久以來的夢想。除了拖延你們取得文憑的寶貴時間,這些建議有什麼用?

 

(笑聲)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

我對畢業演講持反對態度,現在依然如此,即使我正在進行畢業演講(笑聲)。我答應這個邀請,只因為我個人和這所學校的淵源,其中之一是你們的校長Sandy Ungar。多年前,我和他在全國公共廣播電台曾有過密切合作。現場很多人知道,校長有一項特殊天賦-說服人們做他們原本不想做的事(笑聲)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)。這一點在這件事上起了很大作用,因為我也有一項特殊天賦-無法對他那樣的人說不。(笑聲)

 

如之前提過的,我與Goucher大學另一項淵源是我的祖母Frieda-我父親的母親。Frieda Freelander-1931年Goucher大學畢業生,一位趾高氣昂的Goucher畢業生。現場有優等生榮譽學會(Phi Beta Kappa)會員嗎?出個聲吧?優等生榮譽學會會員?(歡呼聲)(掌聲)你們是我祖母的學會夥伴,我正戴著她的優等生榮譽學會鑰匙。Frieda祖母在世時,不論出席什麼特殊晚宴或場合,總是戴著那把鑰匙。她總是毫不客氣地談論自己身為優等生榮譽學會會員的豐功偉業(笑聲),只要有人願意聆聽,這讓她看起來像個古怪而難纏的老人家(笑聲)。但真正的她並非如此。她既聰明又風趣,對世事了然於胸,我十分敬愛她,以至於雖然我對畢業演講持反對態度,還是來到你們面前,因為我知道這會令她十分欣慰。

 

我與Goucher大學第三個淵源是-其實我並不想提這件事,但這個星期,我妻子和一些朋友堅持,你們這些畢業生終究會發現這個關聯,那就是-我在這所學校其中一間宿舍裡失去了童貞(尖叫聲)(掌聲)。不是最近的事!(笑聲)(掌聲)當時我20歲,Goucher還是一所純女子大學(笑聲)。我應該不是現場唯一一位在這所學校宿舍裡有過這種經驗的人,對吧?(笑聲)對方是Goucher大四生,這件事是她起的頭,始作俑者不是我。當時的我素質還算不錯,但不是很成熟、沒什麼膽,但她是跨越各種禁忌的老手(笑聲)(掌聲)。我想這件事就談到這裡吧!(笑聲)

 

雖然我對畢業演講持反對態度,但我一直思考,在我踏出校門那天,什麼建議對我來說才是有幫助的。我希望當年有人告訴我,一時對未來感到徬徨是正常現象。你們知道,當你踏出校門時,已完成這份得來不易且十分昂貴的教育;你們就像蓄勢待發的火箭,但不清楚目標在何方,甚至不清楚該如何起飛。你們該如何達成這些訓練的目標,開創精彩的人生?你們或許會說,「好,現在就出發吧!」但你們該怎麼做?我想,當時的我就和你們一樣雄心勃勃。

 

二十歲時,我在新聞聯播網的節目《All Things Considered》工作。即使是這樣的我,依然感到徬徨、充滿不確定。二十多歲的我擁有一項長才,那就是-不知出於什麼原因,我十分擅長編輯工作。我從一開始就是個表現不凡的編輯,但對於所有其他有助於我展現優秀工作能力的事-例如如何編故事,如何鋪陳故事、找故事,如何報導-我是一位十分糟糕的作家,我是那種寫了一個段落後,會盯著那些文字,心想,「哦,不,我還是重寫吧!」的作家,然後一遍又一遍地重寫。二十多歲時,我大部分時間都花在撰寫平庸的故事上。應該幾天就能搞定的故事,我卻得花上幾個月時間。多年來,我一直考慮是否該去唸新聞學院,成為一名記者,或去唸研究所。相反地-這只是一個實用的小伎倆,我決定-我不知道為何沒人提過這件事;我只是付全國公共廣播電台記者50美元,請他們替我檢視腳本,這比唸研究所便宜多了。(笑聲)(掌聲)

 

以廣播工作者來說,我算是十分平庸的。我想聲明,這並不是什麼惺惺作態的假謙虛-像是聲稱自己爛透了。網路上有很多資訊可以證明這一點(笑聲),只要Google一下就能找到。我的收入很少,我個人的年薪目標是「年齡乘以一千」,直到三十歲後,我才達成這個目標。有好幾年時間,我的收入介於12,000美元至18,000美元之間。我得說,上週《紐約時報》的報導令我感同身受-他們做了一系列關於大學生負債的報導。許多人大學畢業後,每個月得負擔900美元的助學貸款,這是某些年當中我每個月的總收入。我二十多歲時任職於公共廣播電台期間,父母對我在公共廣播電台從事的任何工作都極力反對。不知怎麼的,我父母是美國唯一不聽公共廣播電台的猶太人(笑聲)(掌聲)。他們認為我應該當醫生(笑聲),我曾經是醫學院預科生。他們對我人生的期許是-生幾個孩子,定居在我從小長大的巴爾的摩郊區,就像在父母羽翼下的孩子。我希望這麼說不會太大言不慚-我擁有自己的全國廣播節目;我上過大衛.賴特曼(美國脫口秀天王)的節目;紐約時報雜誌曾經刊登過一篇關於我的報導,之後他們就不再建議醫學院依然是生涯規劃的好選項(笑聲)(掌聲)。感謝他們改變了想法。

 

我認為為人父母者最大的難題之一,就是在對孩子的期望和孩子的夢想間重新做調整。我認為,當你們遇上這種情況時,很容易就能說出一番道理,希望父母能理解你的夢想。以我來說,我父母總是擔心經濟問題。我父母都生長於十分貧困的家庭,對金錢很沒安全感。他們眼見我賺不了幾個錢,這令他們心急如焚、十分擔憂。當我二十多歲時,我和父母之間的談話-幾年前,我母親因癌症過世-我二十多歲時說過的那些話…我的意思是,我們之前處得還不錯,但我對母親說過的那些話,我二十多歲時對父母說過的那些話…我到現在依然後悔當時為了工作和父母起爭執。我只是想讓你們知道,當父母試著瞭解你的想法時-就像我父母滿懷慈愛地試著瞭解我的想法-當父母試著瞭解你的想法時,不要表現得像個渾球。(笑聲)(掌聲)

 

我很欣賞HBO製作的一部影集《Girls》(歡呼聲),內容是描述年輕人大學畢業後為理想奮鬥的過程,描述他們著手實現夢想的情形。這部影集描寫的每一個情節都跟我二十多歲時的人生大不相同,但其中的本質完全相同。這部影集的傑出之處在於,它忠實地呈現了現實生活的殘酷。影集中的年輕女性對未來感到徬徨,她們假裝知道自己在做什麼,事實上卻完全不明白。她們堅信那些顯然不切實際的夢想。

 

我花了好幾年時間-好幾年;基於某種荒謬的政治理想,我前往尼加拉瓜-我一直將它唸成「尼卡拉瓜」(笑聲)-對桑定革命進行第一手觀察。你們將會有一些愚蠢的想法,你們將會和我一樣擔心父母的看法,你們將會質疑自己的選擇,質疑你的人際關係、你的工作、你的朋友、你選擇的住所,質疑自己在大學裡學到了什麼,甚至質疑自己為什麼要唸大學。我想告訴大家的是:這沒什麼大不了的,這十分正常。如果發生這種情形,並不代表你做錯了什麼。

 

當你求學時,你知道自己走在正確的道路上,有路標指引、有目標可循,學校會評估你的表現。回想起來,這是一件相當美好的事。人們時時刻刻為你打分數,告訴你,「你做得很好、你做得很糟、你做得很好!」現在,你們將和我、你們的父母及所有人一樣,體驗無法預知的人生,那是我們在你們之前已在其中打滾多年的現實人生。目前沒有任何人知道該如何評判你打算做的事,或你將如何經營未來的人生(掌聲)。歡迎你們邁向未來。(掌聲)

 

好消息是,你可以設法讓夢想成真。比方說,我並不是一位優秀的作家,我只是一次又一次地嘗試,設法達成目標。你們跟其他人一樣,全副武裝地踏出校門,邁向人生戰場,你們可以表現得跟任何人一樣好。你們知道,以我本身為例,基本上,你只需要設法嘗試自己想做的事。像我只是努力不懈地工作,撰寫一系列能用在Morning Edition節目中的腳本。我學習到-曾經有人告訴我,如果你從事創意工作,就必須想出能運用在工作中的點子。我只是想像這些點子會像魔法粉般地落在我身上,當我一覺醒來,腦海裡就會浮現一堆好點子。我必須學習,以這些想法來說-如果你打算從事創意工作,就必須想出能運用在工作中的點子,這本身就是一項工作。這些想法從何而來?來自於其他想法。你必須讓自己沉浸在令你感興趣的事物中,挖掘出讓你深受吸引、令你想深入探索的事物,想出能運用在你的故事、影片、歌曲、藝術作品或電影中的點子;這是一項工作。想出下一步要做什麼是一項工作、一項任務,你每天必須騰出幾小時做這件事。你必須像個戰士,你必須為自己的夢想打拼。你無法預知會有什麼結果。

 

我祖母Frieda從Goucher大學畢業後,歷經了相當曲折的人生。她於1931年畢業,正值經濟些微衰退時期,你們或許聽說過(笑聲)。她生了兩個孩子後不久就離了婚,在經濟蕭條時期及之後的歲月裡,她過著單親媽媽的人生。她十幾歲時曾經在巴爾的摩治療痤瘡-她罹患嚴重的痤瘡-醫生採用一項嶄新而神奇的技術-X光,讓皮膚暴露在高劑量輻射下進行治療。他們後來才知道如此高劑量的輻射會引起皮膚癌。我祖母32歲時得了皮膚癌,醫生不得不將她臉上的皮膚全部移除,將身體其他部位的皮膚移植到臉上,這讓她歷經了40多次手術的煎熬。

 

她是我父系和母系家族中第一位就讀大學的人,但最後還是接掌了家族事業。那是一間位於市中心、座落在Bayard街角的小雜貨店,基本上就是一間猶太雜貨舖兼酒鋪,整個家族都住在雜貨舖樓上,我父親和叔叔也在那裡工作。她年老時,時常充滿懷念地談起Goucher大學的種種,我想這是因為她曾經在這裡度過一段美好的時光,那是她生命中真正快樂的時光。

 

我父親和叔叔這個星期告訴我,她從Goucher大學畢業後,生活每況愈下。最後,她將在Goucher大學所受的訓練學以致用,成了一位老師。Goucher大學檔案中記錄著班級導師對她的評語,檔案日期是1931年4月:「Freelander小姐可望成為一位十分成功的老師。她具有社會責任感、討人喜歡的性格、優秀且訓練有素的頭腦。她的教學實習十分成功,提出了別出心裁、多樣化、有趣、精心設計的教學計畫,將教材以充滿力量和活力的方式呈現,並以訓練有素的方式表達出教學重點。」最後,她在巴爾的摩一所公立高中教法語,那是這座城市裡一所很容易被人誤認為城市大學的高中。顯然她是一位十分優秀的老師-一位叫Dwayne Wickham的作家寫了一本回憶錄,描述自己在巴爾的摩的成長、求學過程中的掙扎、幾乎輟學的故事。他提到我祖母是他高中生涯裡少數幾位試著幫助他的老師之一,正如Goucher大學老師對她的期望。

 

我打算用一個似乎相當瘋狂的故事做結束。但我想告訴大家,我父親堅信這是真實的故事。這是關於我祖母Frieda-Goucher大學畢業生、一名巴爾的摩女孩-巧遇希特勒的故事。她於1932年6月結婚,當時那間街角商店所賺的錢足以讓她到歐洲-德國度蜜月。她和我祖父Louie前往一些政府大樓參觀,她總是告訴我說那是國會大廈,它於隔年被焚毀。當時我祖父母被帶進一個房間-你們知道,參加旅行團時,導遊會帶領遊客參觀不同的房間。他們走進一個房間,導遊說,「噢,這是希特勒,你們知道,他打算競選我國總統。」根據我祖母Frieda的形容,希特勒是一名矮小而不起眼的男子。他對外國遊客們點頭致意,他們點頭回禮,繼續參觀下一個房間。多年後,我祖母經常提起,每當她在城市大學的高中教室裡講述這個故事時,學生的反應總是如出一轍;他們總是提出相同的問題。他們會舉手說,「妳為什麼沒殺了他?」(笑聲)我祖母回答,「好吧,如果我知道他打算做什麼的話!(笑聲)那是1932年!」

 

問題就在這裡:我們無法預知未來。我們在人生道路上摸索著前進,我們嘗試這個、嘗試那個,根據我們當時的信念,盡力做出最好的預測。這是很可能發生的:當一位Goucher畢業生-你、或你、或你-遇上改變世界的機會,幹掉希特勒(笑聲),卻錯失良機。這是很可能發生的事(笑聲)。但我必須提一下,我昨晚和不少畢業生談過話,我對你們有信心,我認為你們會繼續成長茁壯。這是你們下一個任務-請繼續為自己的夢想而努力。當你遇上改變世界的機會,當你遇上讓自己生命改觀的機會-希望也能使他人的生命改觀-當你遇上幹掉希特勒的機會時,你們會知道該怎麼做(笑聲)。這就是我對各位的期許。

 

(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

 About The Talk

Ira Glass, the radio producer and host of Public Radio International's "This American Life," will receive an honorary degree and deliver the keynote address at Goucher College's 121st Commencement on Friday, May 18, 2012.


 

About Ira Glass

Ira Glass (born March 3, 1959) is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.


Transcript

 

Treasurers, parents, faculty, guests, President Ungar, I am honored to be asked to be your Commencement speaker. I am still opposed on principle to the idea of a Commencement speech. I believe it is a doomed form, cloying and impossible. Commencement speakers give stock advice, which is then promptly ignored. The central mission of the Commencement speech is in itself ridiculous to inspire at a moment that needs no inspiration.

Look at yourselves at this moment: Something incredible is happening to you, right now. The whole world is opening to you; you guys have been in school your entire lives. You have completed something difficult that took persistence and willfulness. Probably you questioned yourselves, again and again, and now you're off to face the world and do everything that you have been dreaming. What can words add to that, except to delay the moment you get your diploma?

I oppose the form of the Commencement speech, and I continue to oppose it, even as I do one now. And I said yes only because of my personal connections to this school. One is your president, Sandy Ungar, whom I worked closely with at NPR years ago, who, as many of you know, has a special gift for convincing people to do things they do not necessarily want to do. Which worked out great in this case because I have a special gift to saying 'yes' to people like that.

As was said, another personal connection I have to Goucher is my Grandma Frieda, my Dad's mom, Frieda Freelander, Goucher Class of '31, a very defiantly proud Goucher grad. Are there members of Phi Beta Kappa here? Can I hear? Phi Beta Kappa? You are my grandma's sisters in that organization. I'm wearing her Phi Beta Kappa key. Grandma Frieda wore her key to any special dinner or occasion until she died, and she was not shy about talking about being a member of Phi Beta Kappa with anyone who would listen, which makes her seem like some wacky, crank, grandma-old-lady. But she was actually anything but: She was smart and funny and awake to the world. And I loved her enough that, although I oppose the form of graduation speech, I am standing here in front of you because I know it would please her a great deal.

My third connection to Goucher ... I really was not going to talk about at all. This week my wife and some friends insisted that you grads would find it relevant. And that is that I lost my virginity in one of the dorms here. Not recently! I was 20; it was still an all-girls school. I'm not the only one in this tent that has had that experience in one of these dorms, right? She was a Goucher senior. She made this happen; I was not the instigator. I had some good qualities at that age, but I was kind of a little immature and scared. She, however, was used to transcending boundaries, and I think that's all I want to say about that.

Although I oppose the idea of the Commencement address, I have been thinking about what would have been useful for me to hear on the day I left college. I wish that someone had said to me that it's normal to feel lost for a little while. You know, you get out of school, and you have this great and very expensive education, and you are a rocket ready to launch. It is not clear where you should be pointed, or even how to get off the ground. And what are you supposed to exactly do to make this big incredible life that now you're supposedly trained to create? You're supposed to be like, 'Alright, let's go!' But what do you do?

I, I think, was as ambitious as any of you in this class. I was working at a network news show All Things Considered at the age of 20. And even I floundered. I floundered badly. I had one skill as a person in my 20's, and that is that. For whatever reason, I was a good editor; I was a very decent editor from the start. But for all the other things that make me decent at my job now-how to make a story, how to structure a story, how to find a story, how to report-I was a terrible, terrible writer. I was the kind of writer who writes a paragraph and then looks at it and thinks, 'Oh no, now I'm going to move all the words around' and then rewrites it over and over again.

I spent years in my 20's doing mediocre stories that should have taken days but, in fact, took me months. I spent years wondering if I should just learn to become a journalist by going to journalism school, by going to grad school. Instead-and this is just a little practical tip I simply decided...-I simply would take NPR reporters and pay them $50 to look at scripts I was working on, which was much cheaper than grad school.

As a performer on the air, I was a complete stiff; and I want to say that this is not some sort of weird, false modesty. Like, I was bad- there is proof of this on the Internet. Google, and you'll see it. I made very little money: My personal financial goal was 'your age times a thousand,' which I did not achieve until I was in my 30's. For many years I made from $12,000 to $18,000. I have to say that it was very sobering for me to read in The New York Times last week (they had this series on college debt) that people get out of college with $900 a month in student loans that they have to pay. That was my entire income some years.

My parents, throughout my 20's when I was working in public radio, they completely opposed everything that I was doing working in public broadcasting. Somehow, my parents are the only Jews in America who do not listen to public radio. They thought I should be a doctor. I was a premed student, among other things. Their idea for my life was to have some kids and live here in the Baltimore suburbs where I grew up, like their parents' kids. I hope this is not embarrassing to say this: I had my own national radio show; I had been on David Letterman; there had been a New York Times magazine article about me before they stopped suggesting medical school was still an option.

And to their great credit, they changed. I think one of the most difficult things for a parent is to readjust what their kids should be with what their kids want to be. And I think when you're the kid in that situation, it's really easy to be glib and just want your parents to catch up to who you're turning yourself into. And in my case, my parents, they were worried about money. My parents both grew up in really, really poor households, really financially insecure. They saw that I was making no money, and it just pushed all of their buttons, and they were really, really worried. When I was in my 20's, things were said between us that ... .

My mom passed away a few years ago of cancer, and there are things I said in my 20's-I mean we made up well before then- but there are things I said to her, and to both my parents, in my 20's that I still regret as we fought over what I was doing. I would just say to you guys, as your parents catch up to you, like I think my parents caught up to me with as much grace as anybody could... don't be a dick.

There's a show on HBO that I admire a lot called Girls. It's about what it's like in the years after college when you're trying to make a life for yourself. It's about what you guys are about to launch yourselves into. Every single fact about that show is completely different from my life when I was in my 20's, but the essence of that show feels exactly the same. What's great about that show is that it's a completely unromantic view of what your life is about to be. The young women on that show, they flounder, they pretend to know what they're doing when they absolutely don't. They strongly believe things that are transparently untrue. I myself spent years- YEARS- in a terrible kind of politically correct phase where I travelled to Nicaragua and called it 'Niquragua' to observe the Sandinista revolution firsthand.

You will be stupid. You will worry your parents as I worried mine. You will question your own choices. You will question your relationships, your jobs, your friends, where you live, what you studied in college-that you went to college at all-and the thing I want to say is: That is totally OK. That is totally normal. If that happens, you're doing it right.

You know, when you're in school, you're on a path, and there are signposts, and there are goals. They give you grades, which, in retrospect, is an insanely wonderful thing that people are constantly grading you and telling you, 'You did well! You did badly! You did well!' Now you are going to join the confusing mess of life with me and your parents and the rest of us, that we've been living in for years ahead of you, where it is not clear at all how to evaluate anything that you are doing or how you're going to spend the rest of this time on this earth. Welcome to your future.

And the good news is that you can will things into existence. Like, I was not a very good writer, and I just willed it to happen by trying and trying and trying. You leave this school as well-armed for battle as anyone is. You're doing as well as anybody. And, in my case, you just have to make up what you're going to be. I would just work and work and work and make up little series that I'll produce on Morning Edition, and ... I just assumed that ideas would be sprinkled on me like fairy dust: You wake up, and you have a good idea. I had to learn that ideas, if you were going to make creative work, you have to find an idea to make the work about. That is a job in itself. And where do ideas come from? They come from other ideas, and you have to surround yourself with things that are interesting to you and notice what is exciting to you and what you want to dive into, and finding what you're going to make your short story or film or song or art project or movie about is a job.  Finding what you want to do next is a job. It's a task: You have to set aside hours in the day, and you have to be a soldier, and you have to fight for what you're going to make in yourself.

You cannot tell yourself where things would lead. My Grandma Frieda, after she got out of Goucher, her life took some really, really rough turns. She graduated in 1931 during a slight economic turndown you might have heard of. She divorced soon after having two children. She was a single mom during the Depression and afterward. Back when she was a teenager here in Baltimore, to treat her acne (she had bad acne), they had this brand-new, amazing technology called X-rays, that they would expose your skin to in high doses to clear up your skin. Only later did they realize that high doses of radiation like that would give you skin cancer, which kicked in when she was 32. They had to remove all the skin from her face and graft on skin from elsewhere on her body, which took over 40 separate operations. She was the first one on either side of my family to have gone to college but ended up taking over the family business, which is a little corner grocery down on Bayard Street downtown-basically a Jewish bodega- that the family lived upstairs from, where my dad and my uncle also worked.

She talked about Goucher so fondly as she got older because, I think, she was happy here. It was a really happy time in her life. My dad and my uncle both told me this week that after Goucher, things got a lot harder for her. Eventually, she did the job she trained for at Goucher, which was to be a teacher.

In her files here at Goucher there are evaluations from classes that she took. There's one dated April 1931:

"Miss Freelander gives promise of being a very successful teacher. She has a sense of social responsibility, a pleasing personality, an excellent and well-trained mind. Her teaching practice met 'great success, making unusual, varied, interesting, well-organized lesson plans, presenting her material with force and vigor, quenching her points in a most experienced manner.'"

Eventually, she taught French in the public high schools here in Baltimore, in the city, at a high school confusingly enough called City College. Apparently, she was very good at it-a writer named Dwayne Wickham wrote a memoir about growing up in Baltimore and struggling in school and nearly dropping out, and he names her as one of the few teachers who tried to rescue him as he struggled through high school -just as her teachers at Goucher predicted.  

I'm going to close with a story that seems crazy, but I remember telling this story, and my dad insists it's true. It's about the day that Grandma Frieda, Goucher grad, Bawlmer girl, met Adolf Hitler. She was married in June 1932, and there was enough money from the corner store at that point to honeymoon in Europe, in Germany. She and my grandfather, Louie, were getting a tour of some government building. I was always told that it was the Reichstag building, which burned down a year later, and they were led through a room- you know you get in with a group of tourists and are led through these various rooms. They walk into a room, and the tour guide says, "Oh, this is Herr Hitler, you know, who's trying to become our new chancellor." My Grandma Frieda would describe him as this short, little man- unimpressive little man- and he nods at the foreign tourists, and they kinda nod at him and move on to the next room. Years later, my Grandma used to say, in her high school classroom at City College she would tell this story, and the response was always the same from the students. They would always say the same thing. They would raise their hands and go, 'Why didn't you kill him?'

And she said, "Well, if I'd have KNOWN what he was going to DO! It was 1932!"

And right there is the problem. We don't know. We lurch forward in our lives: We try this; we try that; we make the best guesses that we can, based on what we believe at the time, and it is entirely possible that a Goucher grad-that you, or you, or you-will get the chance to change the world and kill Adolf Hitler, and you will miss it. And that is entirely possible.

But I have to say, I talked to a lot of you last night, and I have to say, I believe in you. I think that it is just as likely that you will continue to grow and build muscle, which is your next task, and continue to make yourselves into who it is you are trying to be. And when you get your chance to remake the world, when you get the chance to change everything for yourself, and hopefully for others, too, when you get your chance to shoot Adolf Hitler, you will know what to do.

That's my wish for you on this day.

 


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