Commencement speeches are, as Wikipedia describes them, “an opportunity to share your experience, values, and advice. The precise form is up to you. This affords the speaker a platform to say amazing, unlimited things.”
One of those speakers who has chosen his very own form of sharing his experience is Tim Minchin. His 2013 commencement speech at the University of Western Australia is funny and wise.
Tim Minchin shares 9 rules to live by, they all are life lessons. All are worth listening to. The main points are an invitation to be humble, to be generous and to look at what’s right in front of you.
We’ve often heard that there is a purpose to life which needs to be fulfilled or meaning that needs to be found. Sticking to such an idea often leads to having a dream which is far ahead. Looking as far ahead is a good way to avoid seeing what is in front of us.
It is an easy way out, to define oneself in opposition to something. It requires much less commitment than to be engaged in something or to be passionate about something. It’s much easier to complain about someone than to be generous and demonstrative in praising and admiring someone. It’s worth it to be pro-stuff. Don’t give up on yourself with anti-stuff.
While opinions are useful, there is no reason to fix them and every reason to constantly and thoroughly examine them. Nuances is something that is more and more often overlooked, forgetting how nuances can transform an opinion, adapting it to the context or the nuance being discussed. Instead, we often use false dichotomies arguing with totally different sets of assumptions. Check your assumptions, your beliefs, your prejudices, your biases.
He exemplifies it with an assumed dichotomy between arts and science. There is no reason to establish barriers between both and a lot of reasons to combine. Because, as he says, “Science is not a body of knowledge nor a system of belief; it is just a term which describes humankind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation”. Making both work together is an artful way to help to communicate knowledge in a better way. So useful as we all should use our ability to be teachers. There is no reason to take our education for granted and every reason to share it as widely and well as possible.