Sunday, June 30, 2002
This sentiment will seem less of a cliche to us than to other classes, owing to the tragic events of the past year. We invest commencement with expectations of catharsis, reflecting a desire for reassurance that we are ready for the ''real world.'' We at MIT are fortunate then to have as our commencement speaker James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank. He is a reminder that in many ways nothing has changed.
Wolfensohn will reassure us that we are the elite, gifted with unparalleled education and resources; he will remind us that this entails responsibilities to those who are less fortunate. He will inspire us with his own story, the story of the World Bank, which represents the collective good will of the industrialized West, atoning for centuries of colonialism by working to vanquish poverty from the developing world.
Wolfensohn is the perfect speaker because we are a society blinded by our own mythology. We are taught that our public institutions embody democratic principles and pursue freedom and equality for all. We are told by our representatives that we are doing all we can to make life better for everyone. At MIT, we are also taught that hypotheses must not be accepted on faith but measured by their ability to explain observations.
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Remember, during the 20's Al Capone was asked why he didn't invest in the market. "It's a racket,” he exclaimed.
At VOW, we believe in 'picking up a shovel'.
Lets remember the interview between Mother Theresa and a western journalist, whilst she was visiting her Sisters of Charity at a Calcutta orphanage. The reporter noted that India had over 200 million poor, and many hundreds of thousands of orphans. He asked how could she, and her small group of sisters, possibly hope to make an impact on a problem of that size. Mother Theresa responded by saying, "I cannot solve the problem of 200 million but", picking up a child from its bed, "I can certainly help with this one."
Things Any VOW Activist Should Hope For:
Hope looks for good in people, instead of harping on the most worse
Hope opens doors where despair closes them
Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot
Hope draws its power from a deep trust in higher being and the basic goodness of human nature
Hope "lights a candle" instead of 'curing the darkness"
Hope regards problems, small or large, as opportunities
Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism
Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks.
Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit
Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory
- By Father James Keller.