Category Archives: Philosophy

You Gotta Love Philosophy

Not sure most on the Left will get this.
======
WSJ – 8/6/2018

Many in the media—particularly the high-profile outlets that President Trump frequently attacks, such as CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times—seem to be concerned that they are inadvertently helping him, even as they fact-check his tweets relentlessly on the front page or at the top of the hour and back that up with opinion journalism, equally relentless, calling him a liar.

The crisis of self-reflection is precipitated by the circumstance that, no matter how loudly they scream, the president’s poll numbers are strikingly immobile. The current rethinking of how to present the facts seems to be driven by Berkeley linguist George Lakoff, and is being cast in terms of concepts developed in communications theory in the 1980s. In particular, the ideas of “framing” and “messaging” have gained prominence within the media, now with the unfortunate yet unforgettable added image of the “truth sandwich,” credited to CNN’s media reporter, Brian Stelter.

Mr. Lakoff, author of “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things” and “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” argues that fact-checking Mr. Trump is often counterproductive, in that it repeats the false claim, and people remember the false claim but not the evidence of its falsity. This is partly because, according to Mr. Lakoff, repetition changes our brain circuitry. “His lies reach millions of people through constant repetition in the press and social media. This poses an existential threat to democracy,” Mr. Lakoff wrote in January. “Language works by activating basic structures called ‘frame-circuits’ used to understand experience. They get stronger when we hear activating language. Enough repetition can make them permanent, changing how we view the world.”

While interviewing Mr. Lakoff, Mr. Stelter suggested the “truth sandwich” approach to this difficulty. Journalism professor Indira Lakshmanan gives the following application. Let’s say Mr. Trump tweets that a wave of illegal-alien criminals are endangering all real Americans. Now, instead of writing an article reporting the tweet itself, followed by a fact-check, write an article that starts with the fact that illegal entry at the Mexican border is actually going down. Then report the tweet, and then its falsity. That way the facts get introduced first and last, providing the frame, and everyone ends up focusing on the truth.

I want to point out a few drawbacks. First off, in Ms. Lakshmanan’s example, she sets out to report on the president’s tweet, but “reports” instead on some generalized facts that are available on Wikipedia. In other words, she pretends to cover a story other than the one she is in fact covering. Her objective is not to report what is happening, but to manipulate her audience into believing what she says, so they will share her outrage about Mr. Trump. And the metaphor is confusing. Bologna is in the middle of a bologna sandwich. By analogy, in this “truth sandwich,” Mr. Trump’s tweet would be the truth, not the baloney.

Though Mr. Lakoff and his media devotees no doubt think their manipulative strategies diabolically clever and undetectable, they are as obvious as can be. The approach endorsed by Mr. Stelter and Ms. Lakshmanan is pointedly condescending to their own audiences.

Do they believe about themselves what they apparently believe about all people? If they themselves read an assertion and then a careful fact-check of that assertion showing it to be false, do they usually come out of that experience believing the assertion? In their own offices and newsrooms, they have seen Mr. Trump’s tweets repeated as much as anyone has. Has this increased their tendency to accept his frame or believe what he says?

If, as Mr. Lakoff thinks, human beings autonomically believe whatever we are told first and whatever we are told often, there really is no help possible for us anyway. Anyone can manipulate any of us by the most primitive methods. We are a species of suckers, and there’s not going to be any way of keeping any of us from believing all sorts of random nonsense, never mind making politics rational.

The people watching CNN or reading the Times see and hear Mr. Trump’s tweets as much as any Americans, and more or less universally oppose him. Mr. Lakoff’s account is as obviously false as it is patronizing. Indeed, his defense of his own views constitutes the worst sort of pseudoscience, and I challenge him actually to get from his concept of “framing” to the “framing circuits” in the brain. The appeal to neurology here is precisely what we would expect from Mr. Lakoff’s own account of human communication: an attempt to manipulate you into agreement. Maybe if he repeats “frame circuits” a few million more times, such circuits will actually appear.

Mr. Sartwell teaches philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.

Share

Conservatives, Please Stop Trashing the Liberal Arts

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Scalia. And I consider myself way on the conservative end of the scale. We don’t diss math because white collar criminals use it. We don’t speak against sex because some men rape women. Why don’t we think and discuss liberal education the same way?
=======

By Christopher J. Scalia
March 27, 2015 6:07 p.m. ET

Dismissing the liberal arts seems to have become a litmus test for conservative politicians.

Earlier this month, addressing the issue of student debt, Sen. Marco Rubio joked that students ought to know in advance “whether it’s worth borrowing $40,000 to be a Greek philosophy major. Because the market for Greek philosophers is tight.” His remarks echo North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who in 2013 mocked liberal-arts courses and said, “I don’t want to subsidize [a major] that’s not going to get someone a job.” Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas have passed legislation encouraging students to major in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines rather than the liberal arts.

This is an unfortunate trend. Conservatives should be among the strongest defenders of the liberal arts, for at least two reasons: one economic, the other philosophical and political.

A recent study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce did show that unemployment rates for recent humanities and liberal-arts majors are higher than for, say, biology and life-science students. But the difference is not great: In 2011-12 the rates were 8.4% and 7.4%, respectively. The unemployment rate for recent computer-science, statistics and mathematics graduates was 8.3%. So while humanities and liberal-arts graduates are not making out like bandits, the difference between them and their STEM peers is exaggerated.

Income data provide an even stronger rebuttal to the stereotypes. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems and the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that humanities and social-sciences majors earn more right after college than students majoring in physical sciences, natural sciences and math. And although they earn less at that stage than peers who major in professional and pre-professional fields, they earn more than those peers by the time they reach the peak earning years of 56-60 years old. (On the other hand, science and math majors earn much more than either group of majors during those peak years.)

Income and employment are surely important, but financial reward is not all that a college education offers to student and the state. By perpetuating this notion, conservatives ignore a long tradition that places the liberal arts in the center of a thriving society and an informed citizenry.

Thomas Jefferson recognized that a broad education could ensure the survival of the new democracy. He recognized that “even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” To defend against this threat, Jefferson wanted “to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purpose.”

The liberal arts, Jefferson recognized, have a practical value that has nothing to do with direct economic benefits: They are linked to the vitality of a commonwealth and the survival of a free people. It’s easy to see how such knowledge could help a politician, but Jefferson encouraged a general education for “the people at large” to protect themselves from politicians.

Considered in light of Jefferson’s argument, Mr. Rubio’s choice of Greek philosophy as a useless major seems especially inapt.

Apart from specific historical and philosophical knowledge, the liberal arts also provide general intellectual tools that reinforce democracy. Liberal-arts professors use the phrase “critical thinking skills” so often that our students could turn it into a drinking game. But we do so because the term conveys a serious and valuable idea: Students who read and comprehend difficult works, engage with sophisticated ideas, and express themselves clearly are well-suited to contribute to a representative government. Such a citizenry is valued by the left—speak truth to power!—but also by the right, which distrusts centralized power and promotes a stronger civil society.

Yes, college is too expensive. Of course, we need to find ways to control tuition and to ensure that graduates don’t find themselves chained by debt. But conservatives won’t solve these problems by scorning the liberal arts. Instead, they will deprive students of our great intellectual heritage and leave them less capable of governing themselves—and that would be profoundly unconservative.

Mr. Scalia is an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, a public liberal arts college.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/christopher-scalia-conservatives-please-stop-trashing-the-liberal-arts-1427494073?mod=trending_now_2

Share

Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training

========
Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, gave a commencement address last week that graduates, and their parents, won’t soon forget.

May 23, 2014 6:40 p.m. ET

The following is adapted from the commencement address by Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University of Texas at Austin on May 17.

The University of Texas slogan is “What starts here changes the world.”

I have to admit—I kinda like it.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com, says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.

That’s a lot of folks. But if every one of you changed the lives of just 10 people, and each one of those folks changed the lives of another 10 people—just 10—then in five generations, 125 years, the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

Eight-hundred million people—think of it: over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—eight billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of 10 people, change their lives forever, you’re wrong.

I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the 10 soldiers with him are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a noncommissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500-pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn were also saved. And their children’s children were saved.

Generations were saved by one decision, by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is: What will the world look like after you change it?

Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.

And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, Calif.

Basic SEAL training is six months of long, torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacle courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships. To me basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

1. Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

2. During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy. Every day, your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help—and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

3. Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class, which started with 150 men, was down to just 42. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them. No one was over about 5-foot-5.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African-American, one Polish-American, one Greek-American, one Italian-American and two tough kids from the Midwest.

They out-paddled, out-ran and out-swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim. But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the nation and the world, always had the last laugh—swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure people by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

4. Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough. Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle, it just wasn’t good enough. The instructors would find “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed, into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

There were many students who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right, it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training. Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.

If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

5. Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards, times that you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards, your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus. A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue, and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list. Yet an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students, who did two hours of extra calisthenics, got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength—built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

6. At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot-high wall, a 30-foot cargo net and a barbed-wire crawl, to name a few.

But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level, 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot-long rope.

You had to climb the three-tiered tower and, once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the slide for life—head-first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the top of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training. Without hesitation, the student slid down the rope, perilously fast. Instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head-first.

7. During the land-warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island near San Diego. The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for great white sharks. To pass SEAL training, there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim.

Before the swim, the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. The instructors assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position, stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you, then summon up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

8. As Navy SEALs, one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training. The ship-attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over 2 miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.

During the entire swim, even well below the surface, there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you. But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight, it blocks the surrounding street lamps, it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the centerline and the deepest part of the ship. This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission, is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

9. The ninth week of SEAL training is referred to as Hell Week. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing-cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure from the instructors to quit.

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone-chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything. And then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two, and two became three, and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted. And somehow, the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan named Malala—can change the world by giving people hope.

So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

10. Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell.

If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world—for the better.

It will not be easy.

But start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.

Thank you very much. Hook ’em horns.

William H. McRaven: Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training – WSJ.

Share

To the Class of 2014

Oh, my! Cannot believe that former Princeton President William Bowen ‘unloaded’ quite ‘this bad’.
=======
To the Class of 2014 [Commencement address at Haverford, May 18, 2014 ]
WSJ_May 19, 2014 7:30 p.m. ET

Dear Class of 2014:

Allow me to be the first to offend you, baldly and unapologetically. Here you are, 22 or so years on planet Earth, and your entire lives have been one long episode of offense-avoidance. This spotless record has now culminated in your refusals to listen to commencement speakers whose mature convictions and experiences might offend your convictions and experiences, or what passes for them.  Modern education has done its work well: In you, Class of 2014, the coward soul has filled the void left by the blank mind.

When I last delivered a commencement address via column to the Class of 2012, I complained about the dismaying inverse relationship between that class’s self-regard and its command of basic facts. This led to one cascade of angry letters, blog posts and college newspaper columns from the under-25 set—and another cascade of appreciative letters from their parents, professors and employers.

Of the former, my favorite came from a 2012 graduate of an elite Virginia college, who wrote me to say that “America has a hefty appetite for BS, and I’m ready and willing to deliver on that demand.” I gave him points for boldness and cheekily wrote back asking if we might consider his letter for publication. The bravado vanished; he demurred.

Well, Class of 2012, I did you a (small) injustice. At least the pretense of knowledgeability was important to you. For the Class of 2014, it seems that inviolable ignorance is the only true bliss.

It’s not just the burgeoning list of rescinded invitations to potentially offensive commencement speakers: Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis, Condi Rice at Rutgers, Christine Lagarde at Smith and Robert Birgeneau at Haverford.

In February, students at Dartmouth issued a list of 72 demands for “transformative justice.” Among them: “mandate sensitivity training”; “organize continuous external reviews of the College’s structural racism, classism, ableism, sexism and heterosexism”; and “create a policy banning the Indian mascot.” When the demands weren’t automatically met, the students seized an administration building.

At Brown, a Facebook FB +0.05% page is devoted to the subject of “Micro/Aggressions,” a growth area in the grievance industry. Example of a micro-aggression: “As a dark-skinned Black person, I feel alienated from social justice spaces or conversations about institutional racism here at Brown when non-Black people of color say things like ‘let’s move away from the White-Black binary.’ ”

And then there are “trigger warnings.” In Saturday’s New York Times, NYT +0.41% Jennifer Medina reports that students and like-minded faculty are demanding warnings on study material that trigger “symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” was cited by one faculty document at Oberlin as a novel that could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”

Similar Tipper Gore -type efforts are under way at UC Santa Barbara, George Washington University and other second- and third-tier schools. Did I just offend some readers by saying that? Sorry, but it’s true. Any student who demands—and gets—emotional pampering from his university needs to pay a commensurate price in intellectual derision. College was once about preparing boys and girls to become men and women, not least through a process of desensitization to discomfiting ideas. Now it’s just a $240,000 extension of kindergarten. Maybe Oberlin can start offering courses in Sharing Is Caring. Students can read “The Gruffalo” with trigger warnings that it potentially stigmatizes people with hairy backs.

This is the bind you find yourselves in, Class of 2014: No society, not even one that cossets the young as much as ours does, can treat you as children forever. A central teaching of Genesis is that knowledge is purchased at the expense of innocence. A core teaching of the ancients is that personal dignity is obtained through habituation to virtue. And at least one basic teaching of true liberalism is that the essential right of free people is the right to offend, and an essential responsibility of free people is to learn how to cope with being offended.

I’ll grant you this: It’s not all your fault. The semi- and post-literates who overran the humanities departments at most universities long before I ever set foot in college are the main culprits here. Then again, it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out what it takes to live in a free country. The ideological brainwashing that takes place on campus isn’t (yet) coercive. Mainly, it’s just onanistic.

There’s good news in that. You can still take charge of your education, and of your lives. The cocoon years are over; the micro-aggressions are about to pour down.

Deal with it. Revel in it. No consequential idea ever failed to offend someone; no consequential person was ever spared great offense. Those of you who want to lead meaningful lives need to begin unlearning most of what you’ve been taught, starting right now.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

To the Class of 2014 – WSJ.com.

Share