The Latest Greatest Commencement Speech

George Saunders From His Website

This one is funny, and is about being kind. So for the sake of your fellow man, read on.

George Saunders is a 54-year-old writer you may not have heard of, despite his having written two New York Times bestseller books. (We might need to read The Braindead Megaphone just because of the title of the book.) Interestingly, he used to follow Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism, but now finds it repulsive, and likens it to neoconservatism. He is now a Buddhist, and a professor at Syracuse University, where he gave the speech a few months ago.

Here's an excerpt from the speech, although we think you should go to the New York Times article where you can read it in full....

So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

Click here to the article in the New York Times, where his speech first appeared.

Read more about Saunders in this article from LA Weekly. (It's called Mean Snacks and Monkey Shit. How could you not read it?)