A degree shows your school education level, but it isn’t a certificate of your actual intelligence. David Foster Wallace made his commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 pointing out that we all have a default setting that holds us back from greatness. Simply having a degree does not mean that you know how to think; which is half of your intellectual ability. Everyone is pre-programmed from birth to believe that the world revolves around them; that they’re the center of the universe. Having this self centered world view is normal; this is the way that everyone is preset to think at birth. Your day to day thoughts require little input from you, you just think them. Wallace argues that a true education requires knowing how to think and use the information that you’ve learned; simply getting a college degree does not mean you are intelligent. His example of daily adult life shows how the way we think can really change the way we see the people ...view middle of the document...
“But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider.” (206). Wallace is trying to tell the Kenyon students that it is possible for things to be different than they appear at the surface, and if you just learn how to think in that manner; everything that happens in this world can seem to be different than it is.
I agree that Wallace’s speech is one of the greatest commencement speeches of all time, his explained points need emphasis in today’s society since everyone seems to be plagued with this lack of the ability to think. These days so many people are in a rush to get everywhere, they don’t have time to wait for anyone that could be in the way. It’s disappointing to see that our society has gone from a bunch of people that are patient, kind, and respectful; to a society where no one is willing to have any patience or show any general respect for those around them. This speech was excellent, it’s unfortunate that I had never heard of it before; this is definitely a speech that every single graduate needs to hear before they even leave high school.
Wallace acknowledges the fact that the daily adult life is full of repeating the exact same routine many times throughout a month. Going to a grocery store after you’ve been at work for a long time, and now you’ve got to deal with this long line of people that are also all thinking the same thing that you are. People fail to realize the fact that everyone else is stuck in this long line, but you personally can only see your side of the situation. According to Wallace, people are preprogrammed to believe this way; that we are designed to believe the world revolves around us from the time we are born.