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Joel Silverstein

The Earth holds six billion different perceptions, six billion world views, six billion different worlds, each specific to the individual whose ideals create them. How humbling it can be to take this step, back to where you can look down upon this sea of heads, all moving and breathing and existing. All with their own complex thoughts and values. All critical of themselves. Some not quite enough, some so critical it takes their lives.

The grandeur of these thoughts may become trivialized at times, society’s acute formality dragging us through a uniform of specification and mountains of paperwork. But our ability as humans to feel emotion, to let mothers and fathers and grandparents and teachers and relief workers into our own personal universes, is the essence of being alive. Once we take the time to understand ourselves we can let everyone see our thoughts, and begin the process of learning tolerance.

It is necessary to fight for tolerance, in the U.S., in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and in Kosovo. We need to give children objective information provided by objective reporters, not by government contractors or religious organizations. We need to not stick our noses in the clouds when a person with unkempt hair wanders into a deli on Northwest 23rd. We need to think about the importance of our actions, and the allocation of our individual and collected energies.

That being said: I’m not sure I’m on the Fargo wagon headed towards Katie Harman’s doorstep. I’m also not sure that the commencement speaker holds much consequence in a graduation ceremony. Last year, Portland State had an area judge give the commencement address. Was he more qualified than Katie Harman? Maybe. Should her speaking really have an effect on a graduate’s pride in reaching his or her goals? Maybe not.

The importance of gauging the severity and sincerity of our sentiments is of the utmost. If we can’t get over ourselves long enough to stop being cynical – and ease up on Katie Harman, despite the fact that her title may be derived from a good voice and the way she looks in a bikini – we need to examine what the motivation for this scrutiny is. It might be cool to see a Robin Williams or a David Sedaris, but lets face it: Here, we take what we can get.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t fight for a standard of quality throughout our institution, from academics, to the publications we produce, to the food service options we are denied. It’s just that if we choose to concentrate on who is speaking at graduation we lose sight of the true battles at PSU; Food For Thought, budget cuts and job security for our talented professors. Social activism is vital to the representation of the whole student body. But in this instance, activism borders on fanaticism. Katie Harman is just one woman. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.