Friday, June 20, 2008

Commencement Magic at Harvard

J.K.Rowling makes some great points at Harvard in her commencement address titled "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination" (h/t 3QuarksDaily).

A couple of excerpts:

"On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.....

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.......

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better........"

Check out the entire transcript. It is well worth the few minutes spent.

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Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde said...

Great catch! That was outstanding.

Anonymoustache said...

Thanks Dr.J. As I indicated in my post, I got alerted to it by 3QD---a great blog that I highly recommend. I don't have the time to read a tenth of the stuff on 3QD but still check in regularly because they'll have at least one unmissable post every week.

drdrA said...

I'm going to have to read the whole thing because just that little excerpt was inspiring.

At one graduation I attended, Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband Richard Goodwin (writer and former speechwriter for kennedy and Johnson) spoke. It was, without a doubt the best and most inspiring graduation address I have ever heard.

This one looks like it might top that one! Perhaps.

Anonymoustache said...

Please do read the entire thing. I think you won't be disappointed.

drdrA said...

I watched it yesterday- it was totally awesome!