That Vision Thing


In 1969 when she was 22, Hillary Rodham made a Commencement Speech for her graduation class at Wellesley College. Making allowances for grammatical construction, here are the major points she made:

  1.  Empathy doesn’t do anything. We’ve had lots of empathy
  2. The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.
  3. Many of the issues that I’ve mentioned—those of sharing power and responsibility have been general concerns on campuses throughout the world. Underlying those concerns there is a theme it talks about integrity and trust and respect.
  4. Our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life is not the way of life for us.
  5. I would like to talk about reality and what we have to accept of what we see – it is that it hovers often between the possibility of disaster and the potentiality for imaginatively responding to men’s needs.
  6. To be educated, the goal must be human liberation that enables 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,
  7. Mutuality of respect between people is when you don’t see people as percentage points. Where you don’t manipulate people.
  8. Fear is always with us but we just don’t have time for it. Not now.

Then she closed with this poem by Nancy Scheibner

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.


It is now 47 years later.  In that time, she became an attorney, a champion for Civil Rights, a crusader for widespread healthcare, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the US, Senator for the State of New York, Candidate for the Presidency in 2008, Secretary of State, and now Candidate for the Presidency in 2016.

The message is still the same.  We cannot live in fear and as long as we live we have to strive to make the good things possible.


About Jamie

Retired Writer Editor - Loves Books, Musical Theater, politics for a good argument, genealogy, Scotland and owls
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