September 17, 2009

The Moral of the Story

Today was an eventful day, that's for sure. The entire Dartmouth Class of 2013 fist-bumped (no handshakes due to swine flu concerns) representatives from the Dartmouth Class of 1963. In the "Passing of the Class," we were officially given into the care of the college and became full students of Dartmouth. Later on, we went to a dinner with our class and our new president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim. Then, we heard remarks from and a discussion between President Kim, Dr. Paul Farmer, and Ophelia Dahl (also known as our three new favorite heroes). In short, today there was much applause and many words spoken, many compliments given and much made of us and our honored guests and administrator.

But there was one little moment, among all of this profundity and excitement, that made me stop and think. Dr. Farmer had just said something about the great impact our generation would have on the future, or how much we could accomplish, or the amazing deeds we'd do. I smiled but brushed his words off as another cliche... After all, how many times have we heard that we are the future? That we will succeed and change the world where so many before us have failed?

But as I scoffed, solid in my cynicism, the student sitting to my right said something that stopped me in my tracks. That student was Nathan Friendly '13 and his words were as follows: "Look what they've done."

And I sat back and realized that he was right. I can wax cynical about just how horrible the world is and just how many times people have tried to stop its downward spiral... But Nathan was right. In front of me were three people who had made an enormous difference in the world. The moral? It can be done.

And so this is what I learned today. The actual tune (and not the tuneless melody of crowds) of the alma mater, thanks to the beautiful singing at our matriculation ceremony; the great art of attempting to embarrass old friends and ex-lovers onstage (Dr. Kim, guilty as charged). But most of all I learned that great things can be done. Because today I heard speak several people who have done them. All we have to do is work toward those goals and give our every effort to their completion... And we, too, can change the world for the better.


  1. Nathan3:28 PM

    Just throwing it out there, but I will succeed in converting you to an optimist some time in the next four years :-)

  2. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Yay Nathan! The cynicism, although an interesting viewpoint, can be a bit depressing... and the world isn't a terrible place with absolutely no hope!

  3. Anonymous12:48 AM

    You don't even have to look that far back. Just look at the work of, say, Nathan Sigworth '08 or Rachel Strohm '08. They are among every Dartmouth class, including yours, and you could well wind up being one.