And to you, Class of 2009…

Today I attended my son’s graduation from business school.

The speaker was a well known district attorney.

She is a stylish woman, and as a way of making a fashion statement, since she had a green graduation robe covering her dress, she walked down the long aisle at St. Ignatius Church with killer shoes on. I mean killer. Red soles, stiletto heels, and sleek black pointy toes. Those shoes were expensive.

The speech was political. We had to hear about Barack Obama. We had to hear about all of the civil rights attorneys she admired. We had to take in one platitude after another. The only detail I can remember  is that she referred to Twitter.

Judge Blah leaned over and whispered in my ear: What is Twitter?

A 140 character Tweet, I said.

The graduates pomped and the parents considered the circumstances.

But then, the president of the university, a Jesuit, came to the podium and spoke briefly.

He started with a specific example we all could appreciate: a wobbly air mattress in the middle of a pool  used to teach children during their swimming lessons just  how unstable certain surfaces are, even when they look safe.

He moved the analogy to our lives and the surfaces we think we can balance or stand on, only to find them as precarious as that air mattress. Sometimes we fall off; other times we catch a wave and ride it in. Everyone, from the graduates to the grandparents  listened intently to  the speaker as he spoke to us, not at us.

He had carefully selected his words. Crisp language. His inflection, from  loud to sotto voce, reeled me in to his sphere. He didn’t try to be relevant. He just was relevant.

She is. So much. Like. So many. Politicians.

A turn off.

A governmental turn off.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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11 Responses to And to you, Class of 2009…

  1. This party line of Obamagushing from politicians and media alike is completely unhinged. There isn’t an objective analysis on the man’s actions out there. Where would this country be without Obama and his horde of minions? To think our fathers helped make this country great without his enlightened input is truly a miraculous accomplishment.

    I really shouldn’t start. A great analogy from the second speaker and a terrific one to engage people.

    Congratulations to your son. It’s this kind of genuine achievement that still gives me hope.

    I look forward to laying on that wobbly pool air mattress very soon. Part of me even enjoys falling into the pool.

  2. Cheri says:

    The pool sounds good.

  3. Doesn’t it?

    By the way Cheri, you make a great point about speaking with people versus being spoken at.

    That wasn’t lost on me. Well said.

  4. andreaskluth says:

    He had found his authentic voice, she had not.

    Perhaps because she tried too hard (although, to be honest, she had lost you with the shoes even before she said a single word. I am dumping all my red-soled shoes at once.)

    For writers, so easy in theory: Be him, not her.

    Not so easy in practice.

  5. Cheri says:

    True enough, your last line.

    Maybe I am weary of politics in every public speech by a public official. Perhaps, I need to grow up.

  6. Dina says:

    I’ve been falling off my air mattress a lot lately – new leaks keep springing up. Although I’m beginning to realize that every time I catch a wave – big or small – the falling has taught me how to dismount more gracefully when the wave finally rolls flat as they all do.

    At least she had the great shoes going for her. I think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere about how shallow politics really can be.

    P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog the other day.

  7. Cheri says:

    Hey, Dina. I appreciated the picture of you and your brothers, too. Happy Belated Birthday.

    All of my stylish friends who can still wear those gorgeous heels tell me they were probably Jimmy Choo…

    Whoever he is.

  8. Chourou says:

    Hi, Cheri.
    Years ago, in Japan, there was a very popular TV personality. One day he came up in a TV music program as a regular host, with his neat speech and smiling, but at the next moment, surprisingly and unexpectedly, he began to refer to the result of the general election, and admired the victory of certain party he was privately supporting. He shouted out Banzai( a traditional Japanese way of expressing a delight , in which they raise their hands and yell “banzai,banzai”, maybe three times). This was live, of course. Until next week, he had already been WIPED OUT from TV screen. He didn’t appear anymore. Perhaps the contract was canceled by the broadcasting company. I have no idea why he did such a thing, but I assume he got conceited with his success as a personality, and he thought there would not be any taboos for him.

    This is a very unusual case, but I would say, a lot of people got political turnoffs.

  9. Cheri says:

    Wow. That’s swift justice. Your observation about conceit playing a part in his mini-banzai fest (short for festival ) is a good one.

  10. Tyler says:

    All I know is this: some people who speak inspire me to be a better person and to reach for my goals, while others make me feel like the world is an inherently bad place in which there is no hope for the future.

    I think the people who “make the connection” are those who speak optimistically with encouragement for the individual. They create an atmosphere of positivity by instilling in each audience member a sense of excitement and possibility for his/her future. A good speaker does this by reminding us that we have control over our own lives, and that we have the ability to be what we want to be (just like the “graduates sitting in front of you,” etc. etc.).

    On the other hand, those who miss their chance to connect with the audience speak retrospectively, negatively, and with contempt for the individual. They instead continuously remind us of the dark corners of our past, with a “thank-god-we-don’t-live-in-that-time-anymore” tone. They pile on a pseudo-guilt that is supposed to make the individual feel like crap for the mistakes of the past. They do not make us feel optimistic about our own future, and therefore the future of our society.

    It’s like a bad parent who, after each test, continues to say to his/her 17 year child: “good job on the test, son, and thank god you didn’t get an F just like you did in 8th grade Algebra, because boy that was shameful, wasn’t it?”

    I think it’s those who speak “with” you that are the most effective. I’m not quite sure what that means yet. But it makes sense to me.

  11. Cheri says:

    Welcome back to the blog, Tyler. Missed your insightful comments from Chile.

    The first speaker, actually both speakers, were hopeful.

    Hope and optimism are crucial, especially today. I am inspired by some of the writing that came out of the Holocaust, written by people who refused to let someone else co-opt their hope. They escaped into the recesses of their powerful minds.

    These shadowy heroes are often speak to me in historic hushes, reminding me to maintain focus about the good in the world.

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