EA72 logo
(click on this logo to return to the Home page)

Episcopal Academy Class of 1972

Valedictory Address

As the world travels on into the unknown, its path is littered with bones and besmirched with blood. Its wake echoes with the wails of starving children and reeks with a stench from the carcasses of murdered animals, some extinct, and some, such as man, outbreeding extinction. Rather than evolving into the best of all worlds, we are well on the way to becoming no world at all, merely a cloud of radioactive dust hanging in the void, a grim warning to any other world. The countless beauties of Earth -- towering mountains and tiny plankton, great books and great paintings, the love between a man and a woman -- will go for naught unless we do something to avert our rendezvous with holocaust.

Does this sound exaggerated? Perhaps it is. But then, perhaps it isn't. At any rate, we of this generation, we of the Class of 1972, are tired of living in fear. We were in third grade during the Bay of Pigs crisis, and we trembled at the sounds of nocturnal fire engines. We were told that Krushchev was going to bury us. When we were old enough to read newspapers, we read of rape, murder, and political machinations. We have grown up with Viet Nam, and our senior year rang with more Arab-Israeli disputes and Bangladesh.

We cannot expect to have peace and happiness handed to us. We cannot blame others for Earth's problems, and, in the submission of apathy, offer our necks white and soft to the blade of annihilation. We must grab our happiness, squeeze our desires from the grudging body of society. Armed revolution cannot be our tool, for it rarely achieves its ends, and the use of violence against another person tarnishes the brightest ideals. Knowledge and insight must link arms and lead us to a better future.

How can we gain knowledge? Can we turn on the television and imbibe it as we clean our fingernails? Can we get a prescription for it? The first step is forming a proper attitude. The individual must learn to think beyond the present, and he must push himself into learning and applying what he has learned. Memorizing dates and proving theorems are not all there is to learning. A great part of it lies in experience. Experience is usually incidental -- an accident. Meeting someone or going somewhere quite by chance will often affect one's attitudes provided that one is open to new ideas and feelings. Experience of another person leads to some type of understanding. This, then, is what the world needs. It is difficult to hurt anybody with whom we share the bond of understanding.

Book learning and experience will be utilized properly only when we have formed a receptive and compassionate attitude. This attitude is our problem. Throughout history, only a handful of men have succeeded in finding a degree of knowledge and using it for the benefit of mankind. Why should human nature change now? Why believe that the savage pursuit of self-interest will lose its dominance in the actions of man? Well at this point we can no longer rationalize ourselves into complacency. If we don't make a concerted effort, with science tempered by understanding to improve every facet of life on Earth, we are going to be in serious, perhaps fatal, trouble. Self-interest can still be pursued indirectly, for in the future, self-interest will best be served by helping others.

An Academy student in search of knowledge should not overlook his school as a partial source. It seems to many that Episcopal is interested in nothing but getting one class a year into college. The student becomes interested in nothing but surviving his courses, and if he gets good marks, so much the better. Many intelligent boys find themselves performing poorly, and those with good grades often look no further than the report card, or at best, they dream of resulting pecuniary gains in an amorphous future. We are intravenously fed technical knowledge, and after exams, it passes through our bodies like water. We must, however, hang on to this knowledge. For better or worse, human condition will not remain stagnant -- it will evolve. Technical knowledge properly applied can make this evolution increasingly salubrious for mankind. People who run off to the woods and hide themselves in pseudo-subsistence farming are shirking their duty to mankind. Drugs no longer serve as inroads to knowledge of the self, not even as temporary relief from twentieth century tensions. Drug use is becoming a way of life, a way which feeds off the already anaemic body of society. The world needs the involvement of each individual -- we must rip off our blinders and re-route man's course on Earth. Internecine nationalism must give way to constructive internationalism. If humanity follows the right path at this crossroads, it can emerge into a shining utopia where science and art flow unrestrictedly from the same source. If not...

Where does the Class of 1972 fit into the world of the future? This year's senior class has great energy and great talent. In past years, the class braced its psychic muscle against a school which resisted any change in philosophy. With much squealing of un-oiled parts Episcopal is now moving in a forward direction. This change has caused much pain, both to the faculty which resented the attack on certain honored institutions, and to our class, which has lost many members to the strife, and which has sometimes countered frustration with sullenness and much breaking of rules. The energy of the class has not always been unified, nor has it always been spent toward worthy goals. However, where there is energy, there is the potential beneficence to mankind. As for our talents, they can be seen wherever class members permeate, although not always in academic areas. We have artistic, literary, and scientific talent. If we can fit these together, if we can use our learning from Episcopal and college, and the human experience we gain every day, and if students in thousands of other schools all over the country can do the same, then our Earth will become a paradise for all its creatures.


Disclaimer: This information is intended only for members of the class of 1972.
Last updated at 2006-11-20 at 20:15 EST

Copyright 2002-2006 Radiant Productions