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David McCullough Jr. and a speech for grads
ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, high
"You are not special," English teacher David McCullough Jr. said to the several hundred graduates gathered. "You've been fêted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. But do not get the idea you're anything special. Because you're not."
Mr. McCullough, son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, pulled no punches. "[Y]our planet, I'll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it."
Of course he was using hyperbole, but his attention-getting point, after decades of emphasis on "self-esteem," made this clear: In focusing on our own self-worth, we miss this the fact that "the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special, because everyone is."
It's an extraordinary speech, available on Youtube and at theswellesleyreport .com. Worth reading--regardless of what year you slapped on your mortarboard.