Baccalaureate Address: George Hubbard '03
Story posted May 23, 2003
Different Views, Same Goal
by George Hubbard '03
May 23, 2003
President Mills, Members of the College, and Guests,
I think having a student speaker at the baccalaureate is very interesting when you think about it. When one usually thinks of a commencement speaker, politicians, famous authors, and valedictorians come to mind. And they impart words of wisdom which come from years of life and job experience. Instead you've got me. I am not famous, I probably will not be famous, and I certainly do not have the highest GPA. But this is a good thing. I am not someone with whom you have no connection. All I have under my belt is four years of high school and four years of college. Just like you. My best memories include trips to Sugarloaf, parties at Pine St., and runs to Big Top. Just like you. In the next few months I will embark upon the most exciting journey of my life, namely the rest of my life. Just like you.
So that is why I am here. I am not someone who you want to be. I am you. But this poses an interesting dilemma. If I am simply one of the masses, what words of advice could I possibly have for you? Where do I, a graduating 21-year old senior, get off giving advice to people who are just as, if not more, qualified than I am? What right do I have to impart my philosophies on a group that I am simply one member of? The answer is: Every right. If the four years at Bowdoin have taught us anything, it's that what we have to say counts. From every time we speak in class to every paper that we write, to every time we decide to set up a table in the Union our opinions count. Our opinions count not merely because we happen to be the only voices in this college community, it's because we are people who genuinely think and care. Whether you are a student at Bowdoin College or a shopkeeper in Madagascar, your opinions count. I am not up here because I am right. I am simply up here because I care. If you care too, then make yourself and your opinions known. If you don't care, then that's your right too.
When I came to this school in 1999, the apathy on campus was overwhelming. The fact that no one spoke out about issues wasn't even an issue. Apathy was so far entrenched in the Bowdoin mentality that we had become apathetic about apathy. What had happened to the rebellious spirit that Bowdoin had fostered for so many years? If Chamberlain, Hawthorne, or Longfellow knew what their bastion of free thinking had become they'd turn in their graves.
But now look at us. For the past three months, you couldn't walk into any building on campus without seeing some poster or flyer about the war, abortion laws, or the role of the Bowdoin Student Government on campus. There were heated debates at numerous BSG meetings, student organized petitions, and an uncountable number of articles and letters written in The Patriot and The Orient about every issue under the sun.
And the best part of it all was that everyone had different opinions. Some say that having so many opposing opinions on campus is a bad thing, that everyone should be anti-war or everyone should be pro-choice. Many people don't like differing opinions because they cause arguments and disagreements. The people who say this are one hundred percent correct. Arguments and disagreements were caused by the campus's differing opinions, and thank God for that. There is nothing wrong with arguing; it's what makes the world go 'round. Without our differences, life would be so boring.
After many years of apathy, the Bowdoin campus realized this and woke up. We went out and weren't a bunch of wishy-washy students who didn't care what was happening in the world around us. We formed our opinions, for whatever reason, and we stuck to them. Resolutions were made, statements were proclaimed, and sides were taken. It matters not who won or lost, but that we simply played the game. In this day and age of political correctness, we were not afraid to stand up and say what we thought was important. In fact, this whole year can be summed up as Bowdoin College getting up on its hind legs and yelling, watch out world, here we come! And here we come indeed, with thoughts of change.
I once read a graduation speech made at my high school where the speaker urged the graduating class to "go be a hazard!" He advised the seniors to go out in the world and stir the pot a bit. This I thought was fantastic advice. But the phrase "go be a hazard" struck me funny. We don't want people going around becoming hazards to other people. As golfers know all too well, no one likes a hazard. The definition of hazard is as follows: Hazard: A chance of being injured or harmed; danger. Or: A possible source of danger. Danger is not a good thing. I think it's very poor advice to tell some one to go become a possible source of danger. So, while telling people to mix it up is great, becoming a hazard is not. So certainly, let's mix it up with our young views and our visions of a better world; but let's not get in each other's way. Let's not create danger for our fellow man. We should celebrate our differing opinions but let us not allow these differences to cause trouble or harm for others with an opposing world view.
Because when it all comes down to it, we're all on the same team. I don't mean just us here today, or the entire Bowdoin community, or even every person in this country. I mean every person. Period. Every person on the face of this earth is on the same team. We all want the same thing when you get down to it: a quality of life that suits our needs and wants. If we can realize that life is a struggle, but not necessarily a struggle against each other, then we have something. So let's graduate tomorrow, release ourselves into the world with the courage of our convictions, the ones we hold now and the ones we'll develop in the future. Let's use these convictions to fight WITH people, and FOR people, not against them. And let's meet in the middle. Thank you friends, thank you family, and thank you Bowdoin. Go U Bears!
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