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January 20, 2014 / jeffmedic

Fall 2013 Commencement

I am currently serving as the president of the faculty senate at my school. BY tradition, I was asked to speak at the Fall semester commencement this. Here is the text from my speech. I ended up speaking a grand total of three minutes. I had intended to take 5.

Delivered on December 18, 2013.

For many years we have been told that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” As we sit here in this temple of the mind, I hope we have been listening to this admonition.

The human mind represents everything that separates us from the other inhabitants of this world. We have the ability to learn not only from our mistakes but those of others. We have the ability to create beautiful works of art or world-changing discoveries of science.

The mind allows us to see the world as it is and ask why, but more importantly our minds allow us to see the world as it could be and ask why not?

Let us discuss a few ways that we waste our minds. The first way that we waste our mind is by not filling it. Modern communications technology has opened a world of knowledge to us. Its as if we walked into a buffet that contained every type of food imaginable. There are new things to learn everywhere.

Institutions of higher education like BPCC bring you experts in a wide range of subjects to help provide you with knowledge and and train your mind in how to use it. This, more than anything else, is what makes this such a special place.

Learn all you can, everywhere you can. Unlike the buffet of food I mentioned, this buffet of knowledge will never fill you up or make you sick. You might, however, have some interesting dreams after feasting

Second, it is a waste when the products of our minds do not lead to action. An active mind should lead to dirty hands. Every occupation requires thought to be successful. You cannot separate thought from action.

At the wedding of a friend, industrialist Francisco d’Anconia was challenged about his views on money and production. He said

“Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions- and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all goods produced and of all wealth that has ever existed on earth.”

Whatever you choose to do with your life, put your mind as well as your back into it.

The third way we waste our minds is by not living and acting with a purpose. If an activity is worth our time then we should devote our minds to it as well. Do not let life happen to you. Wake up each morning determined to chart your own destiny.

There is no area of your life where it is sufficient to coast and let other people think for you. Your career, your relationships with your loved ones, your spiritual life, all of these require active participation and thought.

If you put your mind to use in every area of your life, you have a much greater chance of ending up someplace you want to be.

In closing, I plead with you. Use your mind to live a life that has meaning and brings you fulfillment. You have been given an incredible gift, please do not waste it.

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