Convocation 2019 - Terence Gilheany
Terence Gilheany
Religious Studies chair Terence Gilheany was the 2019 convocation speaker. Terence opens his talk by playing the "why game." First discussing his daughter Hannah's obsession with the color purple as a young child, and what happened when she ran out of purple clothes to wear, "We said no, and at that point Hannah asked the central question of this story: Why? Why can’t I go naked to school? Well, Because otherwise you’ll be cold. Why? Because people don’t have fur like other animals anymore. Why? Because we lost it as we evolved? Why? Umm, because we did not need it anymore? Why? Because we were warmer because we invented fire. Why? To keep other animals away. Why? So we were not eaten? Why? Because creatures want to survive. Why? Because life is precious. Why? Uh, because it just is? At this point, Hilary and I were exhausted."
As he moves on to the heart of his address he challenges his audience with the following: "First, I want us to investigate ways we might identify some of our own and others’ core values. Second, I’ll ask us reflect briefly on why a diversity of values might benefit us and our communities. Third and most importantly I’d like us to ask how we may live together in peace as a school, or as a nation, or as a world, while still taking seriously that we may disagree on some fundamentals."
His final thoughts include ways we can approach and conduct ourselves during this new academic year. "How this year should we approach each other in a way that allows these diversities in moral commitments to be a source of growth and not of conflict? I have sought to explore in this talk a series of approaches. We can learn as much as we can about others and the world, using our numerical, scientific, narrative and artistic approaches to do so. We can seek common ground, focusing more on our shared aims than those that divide us. Finally, we can consciously develop our empathy, seeking to inhabit the worldviews of those different from us."
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