Four level of Interactions | A 1996 Commencement Speech | Flax-Golden Tales
A 1996 Commencement Speech – Salman Rushdie, India (1947)
It is a speech given by Salman Rushdie to graduate students at Bard college at Newyork. Jenane Kirkpatrick was chosen as a speaker but the students boycotted his speech. Rushdie feels happy because all the graduate students of that college are present and listening to his speech. Rushdie shares our own graduation day at Cambridge University. It was the year of student protest. A few nights before of his graduation day, someone hurled bucketful gravy and onions all over the walls and furniture in his room. He had not done that but he had to pay for the damage before the ceremony. Otherwise, he would not be permitted to graduate.
He has realized now that it was his mistake to accept that crime without doing. Next, he went to the ceremony wearing brown shoes. But he was plucked out of the parade and made him wear black shoes. He is not sure why the people in brown shoes were deemed to be dressed improperly. He did as what he was instructed. At last, he knelt at vice- chancellor’s feet, and begged in Latin for the degree. In fact, it was his right to get a degree because he had worked hard for three years with his family support. Now he realizes his mistake that he was wrong to compromise with injustice. The injustice that he accepted to get graduation tortures when he remembers those days.
In his speech, Rushdie advises the graduate students not to accept any injustice like him. He encourages them to defy (to refuse to obey) even the gods if they try to limit and control their position, thought and life. He gives many examples from the myth (story from ancient time) that how the people objected the power of gods. The myths that he told proved that great human beings were guided by their own thoughts. They challenged the gods and were ready to get punishment. He further suggests not to bow their heads in front of any power. If anyone tries to capture their rights, they must revolt against it. He said that they had to be guided by their natures. He suggests the graduate students be joyous adventurous, creative, inquisitive, demanding, competitive, loving and defiant. Also, he wishes great good luck and many congratulations to all the graduate students.
The writer may be trying to show the importance of justice, freedom, right and personal thoughts. In the speech, Rushdie suggests not to tolerate injustice and inhumanity at any cost. He suggests defying even the gods if they try to limit and control their rights, freedom, thoughts, and lives. He says that human beings must be guided by their natures and they should be adventurous, inquisitive, competitive, loving and defiant.
Although Rushdie’s essay is suggestive, instructive, and fruitful in human life, I doubt in some points. He says to defy even the gods. Can we defy and challenge gods in real life? Is it good to revolt against the college from where we get graduation degree? The writer says that we should be guided by our natures and thoughts. It means should we neglect the advice of our parents, teachers and other senior persons?
I am really impressed by the speech of Rushdie. His saying especially not to tolerate injustice has really touched my heart. I have tolerated injustice many times in my life. I have also bowed down my head many times in front of injustice. But I have determined not to surrender to injustice at any cost form today. His speech has inspired and enforced (to make sure) me to walk always in the path of justice.
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