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Reflection on Kenyon Commencement Speech 2005

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The average requirement of the commencement speeches in the US involves the most essential and obvious realities which are often difficult to talk about as well as see (Wallace, 2005). In day to day stages of leading adult way of life, there is an existence of an ordinary platitude which can have life or death consequences. Liberal art is one of the most persistent clichés in the initiation of speech genre, whereas it is not only about filling someone up with knowledge, but also about “teaching one on how to think.” Most people may feel offended by the claim that they need someone to teach them on how to think, but the fact turns out to be not offensive at all, because the actual importance of education that derives from thinking is not about the capability to think, but rather the choice made on what to think about.If this choice appears to be too obvious and it may consume time to converse, it is recommendable to raise the doubt for some time about its worth.

Normal open-minded art may analyze similar experience to mean two completely different things to people depending on those people’s various believes and reliance on the past experiences as the way of creating meaning. Hence, it is not easy to decide the interpretation that is true, false, or bad. How people create meaning is not in fact a matter of intentional or personal choice, but rather a matter of arrogance, whereby most religious people seem to be sure of their own interpretations thus becoming more repulsive than the atheists. Therefore, how to think actually means to be less supercilious, seriously self-aware and certain.

According to Wallace (2005), graduates should learn that a large number of things that tend to be automatically certain turn out to be completely wrong and misleading. Therefore, graduates hardly ever think of natural, crucial self-interest because it is, subsequently, socially repulsive, which is common to all people. Thus, there is no experience people have had that they are not the supreme centre of it. The world is all around everyone as they experience it. Personal feelings and thoughts are so urgent, immediate and real, but other peoples’ thoughts and feelings have to be communicated somehow. It is not an issue of good quality, but a matter of selecting to perform the work of getting free of natural, varying, hard-wired defaulting settings which are to be factually and totally self-centered so as to interpret everything through the lens of self.

The work of regulating the default settings facilitates the tendency to over intellectualize things to vanish in theoretical argument within the mind as an alternative of concentrating of what goes on in advance within oneself.  Studying how to think may mean learning how to control of what and how to think, being aware and conscious enough to decide how to derive a meaning from the past experience and select what to pay attention to. The real value of liberal arts education is to avoid being in a comfortable, unconscious, prosperous, respectable adult life, a slave to one’s mind and natural default setting of being imperially, uniquely and completely alone day by day, which may involve minor frustration, routine and boredom. During all these minor, frustrating, routine and boring situations, that is when the work of choosing comes in, hence, there is time to think. Therefore, one might be miserable if he or she does not make a conscious choice about how and what to pay attention to in everyday situations.

Something in the speech that I had not thought about before was that it usually takes efforts and will to think and make a decision because it depends on what a person wants to achieve. If someone is sure of what the reality is while operating in the default setting, then, probably, the possibilities that are not miserable and annoying will not be seriously considered. However, being good at paying attention to important things, there are always other options within your power to experience different types of situations as not only important, but also sanctified. The kind of freedom that is really important includes discipline, awareness, attention and being able to truly care and sacrifice. The concept of understanding how to think is thus imperative.

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