Analysis - George Saunders' Commencement Address

1212 WordsApr 13, 20155 Pages
B. Commencement Address Essay by Tone M. H. Petersen Most people know that it is important to show kindness towards other people and it might seem like a very trivial piece of advice to give people if you tell them to remember to be more kind. However sometimes in the grand scheme of things and in the overpowering and overwhelming light of our own ambition and need for success we still let opportunities of kindness pass us by. This is what George Saunders1 addresses in his commencement addres that he delivered in May 2013 at Syracuse University in New York State. In his speech Saunders uses 2nd person singular/plural, 1st person plural, and 1st person singular. The use of 2nd person plural makes it clear that Saunders is…show more content…
What he means by that is that to get rid of the selfishness it is necessary to be aware of it and aspire to be more kind and rise above the selfisness. This metaphor is powerful because it clearly shows how he feels about selfishness and how important he thinks it is to get rid of. It also makes the audience more prone to agreeing with his values because it is a universal thing for most people to not want to have any diseases, so by speaking of selfishness as a disease he can make the audience feel a strong dislike towards it. Even though Saunders speaks against selfishness he does not necessarily mean that we need to forget our own ambition: “If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously - as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves. Still, accomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding” […] and the need to do so constantly renews itself.” (ll. 203-211). In this quote Saunders shows that he does not think that being kinder and trying to focus on being kind needs to cancel out ambitions. He still thinks that ambition is crucial in the sense that it’s important to be strive towards being “our best selves”, but it is also important to realise that the need for success will always renew itself so constantly striving for succes is always going to be an uphill-battle that might pull our focus away from other important things: “[…] cause us to prioritize our own
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