A Wonderful Commencement

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 23:34:11 +0000

Today I heard one of the very best valedictory addresses in fifteen years on the Dartmouth faculty. From Geoffrey Kirsch, who was one of two students who graduated with a perfect 4.0:

And so it is easy enough to lament that such comfort and convenience have come at a price; that the wilderness is gone and with it the adventurous spirit of “old Dartmouth”; that the College is already built on the Hill, the voice in the desert already heard, the books already read; that we stand here today, “magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life,” crying out for nothing more than a job in this miserable economy.

I do not believe this. As long as economy and environment alike are ruined by myopia and greed, as long as hunger and disease plague the world, we languish in a winter as dark and iron and oppressive as the early months of 1771. Wherever we set our learning against ignorance and ideology, we as Dartmouth graduates stand on the edge of a wilderness every bit as tangled and trackless as that which Eleazar Wheelock traveled in 1770.

Read the whole thing.