Dimissionstale på Wellesley College - 1969

Hillary Clinton

  • År: 1969
  • Sted: Wellesley, USA

Analyseret af
Maya Wettergren Andreasen og Victor Stampe

“We're searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living.”

Hvorfor er denne tale interessant?

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (født Hillary Diane Rodham) stod over for en stor opgave, da hun som den første elev i skolens historie skulle holde en tale for sine medstuderende til deres dimission fra Wellesley College i 1969. Talen bærer præg af, at den holdes i en tid, hvor der er forandring i sigte, hvad ligestilling angår, og Hillary Rodham Clinton lægger vægt på, at de nyuddannede har et ansvar for at udnytte deres kompetencer til at fremme en forandring i synet på kvinder og deres rolle i samfundet.

Talen er interessant at kigge på i forhold til de unge amerikaneres aktivisme tilbage i 1970erne. Hillary Rodham Clinton kommer med nogle grunde til, hvorfor hendes generation er nødt til at være aktivistiske, fordi de er fremmedgjorte fra dem, der sidder på magten. Dette gælder både for hendes generation som sådan, men specielt for dem som kvinder. Det er også interessant at se, hvordan hun i en afgangstale, der egentlig markerer en slutning på noget, skaber et springbræt til at fortsætte med det samme.

Den retoriske situation

Talen afholdes ved dimissionen på Wellesley College den 31. maj 1969. Wellesley er et privat college for “liberal arts”, som kun har kvindelige studerende. Wellesley er desuden medlem af de originale “Seven Sisters Colleges” i USA, hvilket er en samling af historiske kvindecolleges. Taleren er afgangseleven Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (født Hillary Diane Rodham), og det var på daværende tidspunkt første gang nogensinde, at en elev talte ved dimissionen. En “commencement speech”, som talen her, har et lidt løsere format end mange andre offentlige taler. Taleren har forholdsvis frie tøjler til at tale om, hvad de vil, og på hvilken måde de vil. Dog handler de ofte om fremtiden og indeholder en form for opfordring til eller et ønske for afgangseleverne. Hillary Clinton taler for sine medstuderende, som alle er kvinder, og man må gå ud fra, at de har samme interessegrundlag som hende. Derfor er der tale om et overvejende velvilligt publikum.

Introduktion

In addition to inviting Senator Brooke to speak to them this morning, the Class of '69 has expressed a desire [for a student] to speak to them and for them at this morning's commencement. There was no debate so far as I could ascertain as to who their spokesman was to be: Miss Hillary Rodham. Member of this graduating class, she is a major in political science and a candidate for the degree with honors. In four years she has combined academic ability with active service to the College, her junior year having served as a Vil Junior, and then as a member of Senate and during the past year as president of College Government and presiding officer of College Senate. She is also cheerful, good humored, good company, and a good friend to all of us and it is a great pleasure to present to this audience Miss Hillary Rodham.

The question about possible and impossible was one that we brought with us to Wellesley four years ago. We arrived not yet knowing what was not possible. Consequently, we expected a lot. Our attitudes are easily understood having grown up, having come to consciousness in the first five years of this decade—years dominated by men with dreams, men in the civil rights movement, the Peace Corps, the space program—so we arrived at Wellesley and we found, as all of us have found, that there was a gap between expectation and realities.

But it wasn't a discouraging gap and it didn't turn us into cynical, bitter old women at the age of 18. It just inspired us to do something about that gap. What we did is often difficult for some people to understand. They ask us quite often: "Why, if you're dissatisfied, do you stay in a place?" Well, if you didn't care a lot about it you wouldn't stay. It's almost as though my mother used to say, "You know I'll always love you but there are times when I certainly won't like you." Our love for this place, this particular place, Wellesley College, coupled with our freedom from the burden of an inauthentic reality allowed us to question basic assumptions underlying our education.

Before the days of the media orchestrated demonstrations, we had our own gathering over in Founder's parking lot. We protested against the rigid academic distribution requirement. We worked for a pass-fail system. We worked for a say in some of the process of academic decision making.

And luckily we were at a place where, when we questioned the meaning of a liberal arts education there were people with enough imagination to respond to that questioning. So we have made progress. We have achieved some of the things that we initially saw as lacking in that gap between expectation and reality. Our concerns were not, of course, solely academic as all of us know. We worried about inside Wellesley questions of admissions, the kind of people that were coming to Wellesley, the kind of people that should be coming to Wellesley, the process for getting them here. We questioned about what responsibility we should have both for our lives as individuals and for our lives as members of a collective group.

Coupled with our concerns for the Wellesley inside here in the community were our concerns for what happened beyond Hathaway House. We wanted to know what relationship Wellesley was going to have to the outer world. We were lucky in that Miss Adams, one of the first things she did was set up a cross-registration with MIT because everyone knows that education just can't have any parochial bounds anymore. One of the other things that we did was the Upward Bound program. There are so many other things that we could talk about; so many attempts to kind of - at least the way we saw it - pull ourselves into the world outside. And I think we've succeeded. There will be an Upward Bound program, just for one example, on the campus this summer.

Many of the issues that I've mentioned—those of sharing power and responsibility, those of assuming power and responsibility—have been general concerns on campuses throughout the world. But underlying those concerns there is a theme, a theme which is so trite and so old because the words are so familiar. It talks about integrity and trust and respect. Words have a funny way of trapping our minds on the way to our tongues but there are necessary means even in this multimedia age for attempting to come to grasps with some of the inarticulate maybe even inarticulable things that we're feeling.

We are, all of us, exploring a world that none of us even understands and attempting to create within that uncertainty. But there are some things we feel, feelings that our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us. We're searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. And so our questions, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue. The questions about those institutions are familiar to all of us. We have seen them heralded across the newspapers. Senator Brooke has suggested some of them this morning. But along with using these words—integrity, trust, and respect—in regard to institutions and leaders, we're perhaps harshest with them in regard to ourselves.

Every protest, every dissent, whether it's an individual academic paper or Founder's parking lot demonstration, is unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age. That attempt at forging for many of us over the past four years has meant coming to terms with our humanness.

Within the context of a society that we perceive—now we can talk about reality, and I would like to talk about reality sometime, authentic reality, inauthentic reality, and what we have to accept of what we see—but our perception of it is that it hovers often between the possibility of disaster and the potentiality for imaginatively responding to men's needs. There's a very strange conservative strain that goes through a lot of New Left, collegiate protests that I find very intriguing because it harkens back to a lot of the old virtues, to the fulfillment of original ideas. And it's also a very unique American experience. It's such a great adventure. If the experiment in human living doesn't work in this country, in this age, it's not going to work anywhere.

But we also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves,as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect. Those three words mean different things to all of us. Some of the things they can mean, for instance: Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence.If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know. Integrity—a man like Paul Santmire. Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said "Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust." What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted? All we can do is keep trying again and again and again. There's that wonderful line in "East Coker" by Eliot about there's only the trying, again and again and again; to win again what we've lost before.

And then respect. There's that mutuality of respect between people where you don't see people as percentage points. Where you don't manipulate people. Where you're not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. And the word consequences of course catapults us into the future. One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said that she wouldn't want to be me for anything in the world. She wouldn't want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she's afraid. Fear is always with us but we just don't have time for it. Not now.

There are two people that I would like to thank before concluding. That's Ellie Acheson, who is the spearhead for this, and also Nancy Scheibner who wrote this poem which is the last thing that I would like to read:

My entrance into the world of so-called "social problems"

Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.

The hollow men of anger and bitterness

The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation

All must be left to a bygone age.

And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle

For all those myths and oddments

Which oddly we have acquired

And from which we would become unburdened

To create a newer world

To translate the future into the past.

We have no need of false revolutions

In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds

And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.

It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.

And once those limits are understood

To understand that limitations no longer exist.

Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free

Not to save the world in a glorious crusade

Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain

But to practice with all the skill of our being

The art of making possible.

Thanks.

Det siger retorikerne:

Den 21-årige Hillary Diane Rodham holder en tale, der lægger vægt på sin generations (og herunder især kvindernes) ansvar for at gøre det umulige muligt, og her mener hun især, at det er på tide, at kvinder træder i karakter og tilkæmper sig en vigtigere rolle i samfundet, end de hidtil har haft. Hun bygger i den instans talen op med en antitetisk struktur, hvor hun på den ene side taler om fortiden og på den anden side om fremtiden. Desuden snakker hun også om det umulige over for det mulige og fællesskab over for individ. Hun lægger stor vægt på særligt tre værdier - integritet, tillid og respekt - hvilke hun argumenterer for, er essentielle i denne verden. På den måde tilfører hun også sin tale en form for huskeregel i livet til de øvrige dimittender, hvilket er noget, der ofte optræder i den slags dimissionstaler.

Udover den antitetiske opbygning som virkemiddel, bruger hun desuden stilfigurer som eksempelvis triaden i sin argumentation, og derved får hun også gjort talen lettere at huske for sit publikum ved at fremhæve tre værdier.

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