I officially graduated today, this twenty-second day of May. A chilly Sunday, without much sun, but more importantly, with no rain. A long day, with an all-university ceremony at 9.30am, break for lunch with the wonderfully warm Teo family, plus Janelle at 11am, then the International Relations/Political Science/Latin American studies ceremony at 1.30pm, then dinner with the gracious Kincaid family, plus Charles.
The beautifully sunny Saturday before this, a deeply centering TCF Senior Service at noon, an elegant ROTC commissioning ceremony at 1pm, a fun lunch with Matt and Hope’s families at the Danish Pastry House, a funny and heartfelt Baccalaureate service at 3pm featuring fellow eleven-er Brian exhorting us to embrace the unknown, photo-taking and catching up with the Audet family thereafter, a festive graduation party at Molly’s at 5pm, then an intimate dinner with the Lim family plus Sonia, before ending the day - and our undergraduate years - off with the traditional candle-lighting ceremony on the hill at 11pm.
Points when I got emotional: when Larry choked up as he wished us well; when cheering for friends from the front row as they stepped across the stage - and when stepping across the stage myself!; when Professor Penvenne advised us to equip ourselves with kindness, generosity and patience, going forward; when friend’s families each welcomed me and others like surrogate children, sharing their lives with us, inviting us to visit and stay in touch, and expressing firm confidence that we would do well in life, however we might feel about ourselves.
Here, some words of thanks:
To my parents, for their love, in never witholding anything good from me, whether it was a rigorous and expensive education and the opportunity to see and learn from the world and its people, or sound discipline, a commitment to servanthood, and a relationship with God.
To my peers - both here and back home in Singapore! - whose inspiring examples both humble me and spur me on not only to greater personal achievement, but to greater acts of service, of thoughtful and change-making leadership.
To the families of my peers, from whom I have received so much hospitality, and who have shown me the genuine power of kindness and community.
To my teachers and professors, whose previous and continued investment in me and my peers are models of true selflessness, generosity, and what it to means to have in mind’s eye the greater good of society.
But most of all, to Him in the highest, who brings all people together, and who works all things out for good.
Today, we had our CMS Senior Celebration here at Tufts, which basically meant we get to see all the cool things that our peers have been up to over the past semester/year that are related to the fields of Communications and the Mass Media - film, television, social media, advertising, marketing, you-name-it-we-got-it. In some cases, we got to see what our friends have been doing over the course of their entire college careers, which certainly was the case in Ben’s project: he basically made a blog of what he’s been doing for the Tufts Daily over his college career - TV reviewing - and looked analytically at what he and other TV blogger-critics do. I know from personal experience that I’m always crawling the blogs when I’ve watched a particularly intense or good episode of a favorite show, just to see how other people’ve responded - whether they share my sentiments, whether they disagree - so I really appreciated his work, and thought I should give it a little shout-out, if nothing but to add to his internet stats.
I’ve been loving all my friend’s perspectives and insight (every single one) and I can’t quote all of you… But thank you for supplementing me with such a wide view of something so important.
I’m with him.
The news of Osama’s death has been met with a variety of responses amongst my friends, some of them American, some of them not, but all of them thoughtful, befitting the ‘thinking people’ that they are. I’ve posted a couple already; here are some more:
“No one except a dumb thief plays with the security of others and then makes himself believe he will be secure. Whereas thinking people, when disaster strikes, make it their priority to look for its causes, in order to prevent it happening again. - Osama Bin Laden”
Murder is not righteousness, and neither is justice ushered in by the death of a sinner. I am talking to you, Obama.
Out the window I hear the sounds of horns honking and people playing the national anthem - the sounds of pride, ignorance, stupidity, and unmasked barbarity. Grow up, America.
There are many reasons why people need to calm down: 1. A human life has ended. 2. It is barely militarily significant. 3. All the US has really done was neutralize a threat it selfishly created.
Bin Laden was a malicious man who did horrible things. But he exists in a very real political and human context. The people honking their horns are the same people who don’t care about the context, and they’re the same people who are going to be very surprised when someone else takes Bin Laden’s place and begins the war anew.
This could have been a great night in American history if we’d decided to learn something. But instead, we’ve regressed to the prideful and ignorant comfort provided by our firepower, neglecting the principles that we once stood for.
(Mark also wrote an excellent, evocative note called “Praising at the High Altar of Hubris,” that I hope he will consider submitting for publishing in the Tufts Daily.)
Tonight when I was watching the news unfold and the address, all that came to mind was the words of the hymn This is My Father’s World.
The last stanza in particular that says:
This is my Father’s World
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrongs seem oft so strong
God is the ruler yet
This is my Father’s world
The battle is not done,
Jesus who died shall be satisfied
And earth and heaven be one.
Because this may not have practical significance and evidently the war on terror and the threat it poses is not over. Yes our God is a God of mercy and forgiveness but he is also a God of justice. And at least for me personally, this was symbolically important, it was a hopeful reminder and confirmation of what we always wanted to believe as children that although the world seems rife with injustice, the forces of good eventually do triumph over evil and there is coming a day when this victory will be complete.
It’s weird to think about it, but Jesus died for Osama bin Laden too. No one is beyond grace or the reach of His forgiveness.
I post these firstly to dispel the blanket caricature of thoughtless, war-hungry public discourse that the outside world likes to throw over the USA. Secondly, I post these to express that my own opinion is found among them - it’s a blend of them, if you will.
My first reaction to Obama’s address was a series of questions: Who’s next on the Al Qaeda hierarchy? Will they use Osama’s death as a clarion call, raise it as a martyrdom? How many more disaffected men and women will be drawn into the battle? How will the American public respond? And how will the USA be perceived by this?
Yes, I am glad that an agent of so much evil has been subdued. No, I am not glad that a man was killed. Yes, I do think this will be a setback, at least temporarily, for the Al Qaeda network, and will stall them in their atrocities. No, I do not think that the root cause of disaffection against the USA and the “free world” has been addressed, and the network may recover or (worse) be reinvigorated. Yes, I genuinely respect and am thankful for the courage and capability of the US military forces that carried out the mission. No, I do not think that the USA executive should consider itself vindicated and freer to act. Yes, the USA and the tragedy of 911 has been avenged, in part, this is cause for some muted gratitude. No, this is not cause for celebration. Yes, the future of the living may be more assured, but the past is unchanged, and the innocent dead remain dead. This is a sombre call to reflection, to consider what made this killing necessary, not a call to brash and blind triumphalism.
It is a quieting of the spirit, not a rousing victory cry.
As a student of History and International Relations, this is one of those moments I know will go down in the books. I fully understand the significance of this moment - yes he is dead and that means, symbolically, a great deal to Americans and a milestone in the war of terror.
But as a History student who has written countless essays and papers arguing the significance of moments, actions and individuals, I know that this perspective is incomplete. The problem, the issue, the war is far greater than one man. One man may symbolize a war, a fight, a cause but he alone does not wage war. He alone does not make history and history does not end with him, neither will this war.
The threat and danger of al-Qaeda is still out there. The more I learn about the Central Asian and Indian Subcontinents, the more I hear and read about them, the more I know that this war that has ‘defined our generation’, is greater than one man. So rejoice, but thread carefully, its not over yet. A terrorist organization has lost its front man, but it still exists. They have indoctrinated many young men to fight for their cause and as much as we would like to believe, they’re still out there.
John Mayer once said, “belief is a beautiful armor/but makes for the heaviest swords/like punching underwater/you’re never going to hit who you’re trying for.” I always knew he referred to the global war on terror that takes on an ideological dimension in its battle. I know it seems like we’re never going to win the war, its never going to end. Right now, John has been proven wrong because the US has hit who they were always trying for - Osama. But its not over, and John’s words still ring true, loud and clear in the air like a clear bell that warns of imminent danger.
Dil, my sentiments exactly. Thanks for expressing this all so well.
What does Bin Laden’s death stand for? Does this mean complete justice is now served? Does this mean that the reign of fear and hatred is now over just because he is dead?
We think we’ve eliminated him and won, but he was just the face of the problem, not the root. Terror, ignorance, hatred and fear actually live deep in the core of every one of us. So let us not be a contributing face to this terror (even in the small ways) by retaliating with violence, bragging with arrogance, or misusing/misunderstanding faiths (or lack thereof) to serve our own selfish causes. Then let’s start talking about real and true justice.
Kat, you put into words what I could not. Thank you.
Catherine Middleton and Sarah Burton have successfully kept the best-guarded secret in fashion history. The incredibly moving moment when the new Duchess of Cambridge stepped out of her car in an Alexander McQueen dress was the fantasy everyone in fashion has been dreaming would come true.
The dress—pure and yet conveying the grandeur of its importance—is an exquisitely modern example of a personal collaboration between a bride and her designer.
Catherine has followed her own taste: a V-neck décolleté and a silhouette that stayed close to her torso, and long, delicate lace sleeves that evoked, perhaps, the wedding dress worn by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.
On her head, she wore the Cartier Halo tiara (lent by the Queen, who herself was given it by her mother on the occasion of her eighteenth birthday) which carried the nuanced balance of simplicity, regalia, and family meaning.
Technically faultless in its scale and construction, the dress allowed the bride to move with ease, carrying all the weight of British history and expectation without the slightest wrinkle or hitch.
That such a feat of appropriateness should have been accomplished in intensely secret conditions—and continually denied by the designer—is in itself incredible in a world of Internet gossip, iPhone photos, and instant communication. More important, it was the symbolism of a partnership in which the individual wishes of a young woman have been expressed and enabled by another young woman of vast talent whose understanding of fashion’s role in serving, and underlining, this historic moment is nonpareil.