By Eder Nunez
“In a time of destruction, create something.” – Maxine Hong Kingston
A commencement speech to the students of Evergreen State College (Spring 2017)
Congratulations Evergreen graduating class of 2017!
Hola everyone. I’ve been asking myself a ton of questions and in light of these, I can only assume I am standing here before you today because of the color of my skin. Or is it because my first language es Español? Or could it be the fact that I’m a proud veteran? A Mexican immigrant? Perhaps it’s all of them. Naaah.. I’m kidding, of course. I’m standing here because I am, above all else, a human being. A lucky one who gets to stand before you today and share some thoughts!
Like many, I was led to believe many things throughout my life which I’ve since come to consider complete BS, and I have The Evergreen State College to thank for much of this auspicious mythbusting. Yes my friends, by now most of us have had years of first hand experience with the magic of Evergreen, a place where imposed societal conditioning and cultural cliches once held dear burst into a million shattered pieces. Great, and so what? Well, this process marks the death of an old worldview and paves the way for a new, more expansive one. The process is painful, yes, but so is life in general; one in which we are inevitably dying, in various ways, all the time..
It has been said: In our dual universe, there can be no life without death. They’re both necessary elements in the evolutionary, universal march towards greater complexity, wholeness and depth of experience.
Forgive me for raising the spectre of the biggest taboo in this culture (what culture exactly?), but without actually acknowledging our mortality it is difficult to recognize just how very lucky and blessed we are to be alive!
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that what our country is going through politically at the moment is a form of death. Indeed, Socrates and Plato were no fans of democracy because they were convinced it would turn out just as it has for us, inevitably, every time. I’m not convinced democracy has to devolve in this way every time, but we do have to come to terms with the fact that in our society and times (a bit unclear – is it American society specifically, Western society generally or societies, globally speaking? Perhaps: in recent times), it mostly has.
Yes, these are times of environmental destruction, of stagnating worldviews, of crumbling and outdated socio-economic/political systems and structures of power. But remember, death brings about the promise of life. And you and I my fellow greeners, we are the very embodiment of that promise.
So now what?
My fellow greeners.. Fight! Fight for your rights, for your truth, for your values and for our shared human dignity.
Let’s be clear… To fight, to struggle in our times is to be of service.. And so..
Fight for your vision! Fight to bring about the society we all know is possible if enough of us cast aside our doubts and fears and instead nurture the courage and resolve it will take to manifest!
*Fight for food and economic justice!
*Fight for the transformation of our systems of education!
*Fight for the destruction of the prison industrial complex!
*Fight for the equality of all based on universal values of love, dignity and respect!
And above all: Fight for life and dare to love! Fight for the birds, fight for the trees and for the jaguar and the salish salmon and the white crane, the polar bear and the blue seas as you love them. Fight for our beautiful green planet, fight for Earth who is both our Mother and our home.
Evergreen is special in all sorts of ways, really, but I am convinced it will be remembered fondly in our distant future as the tiny bastion that could, a place where sciences and humanities came together in a right brain/left brain hemispheric synthesis which gave birth to an entire generation of awakened, full spectrum humans who decided to band together, with the others (what others exactly, or is it “each other”?), and create in a time of destruction.
This means you, standing here today in times of radical change.. this means you.. A ragtag band of nonconformists, nature lovers, artists and dancers, psychonauts and dreamers, anarcho-socialists and yoga-scientists who realized there are things worth fighting and perhaps even dying for, and that success will be in direct proportion to our willingness to focus on the truths that unite us rather than the lies that once divided us.
Remember, fellow greeners; although masquerading as a tired cliche in our times, the following is a profound, timeless truth: All you need is love. But love requires courage and a willingness to focus on what unites us. In these times, that very love compels us to action. To fight, to serve, to be humble and strong and above all to remain forever true to our own deepest selves. Go forth and create change Geoducks!
Muchas gracias, Si Se Puede!
About the Author
Eder Nunez is an immigrant from Mexico, a veteran, and a recent graduate from the Evergreen State College.