1971 Fredericton Encaenia

Valedictory Address

Delivered by: Lyons, Deborah A.

"Valedictory Address" (20 May 1971): 1-3. (UA Case 68, Box 2).

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of the graduating class I wish to welcome you to Encaenia 1971.

Four to five years of work with the expenditure of $8,000. (dollars) culminates in this ceremony today. Has it all been worth it? We wonder! To some these past years have been valuable and beneficial; to others it has been the thing to do, the place to be; and yet; still, for others the time has been nothing more than the accumulation of a number of credits. In any case, with due apologies to William Shakespeare, let me say,' "all's well that ends”.

Traditionally the valedictory address included an expression of gratitude to the administration and educators of the university. I feel this is not necessary. Each of us will select particular people within the university toward whom we feel a heartfelt thanks.

The group of people to whom we owe deep appreciation are without question our parents. But may I further add, in the words of Richard Needham, "the trouble with youth is that they do not follow the advice of older people, instead it follows their example".

And now what of us—the graduates—as we stumble forth on this mass production line. Sir William Alexander writing in the 16 ct. best describes our condition:

"Yet with great toil all that we can attain
By long experience, and in learned schools,
Is for to know our knowledge is but vain,
And those that think they are wise, are greatest fools."

Within the last few years our university society has under¬gone periods of apathy mixed with a short but vital period, of activity and involvement on the part of the student. During this time of upset and turmoil students became aware of the univ¬ersity society and the role they played within it. This aware¬ness became concrete through 1) student representation in university functions; 2) the creation of political groups and 3) the development of socially conscious organizations on campus and in the community. This involvement revealed within the individual student the ability to realize his potential to project himself beyond the superficial role he once succumbed to. He became aware that "Social changes are no more caused by thought than the flow of a river is caused by the bubbles that reveal its direction to an onlooker" (Bertrand Russel), and that, he could "not, for the sake of peace and quiet deny his own experience or convictions" (Dag Hammerskjold).

However, and most unfortunately, once the immediacy of the situation was alleviated we reverted to another stage of disin¬terest and complacency with which we leave the university today.

And what of today. We cannot be complacent in a society that is continuing to make its environment uninhabitable. A short poem entitled "fueled" aptly describes modern man's disregard for his environment (Read Poem). We can not remain indiffer¬ent in a society in which unemployment creates restlessness and strife, discrimination rots the core of humanity, and pollution destroys man's very existence. We need not justify nor accept such a world. We cannot agree with the statement "give us the courage to accept what we cannot change" rather "give us the strength to change what society wants us to accept though we find it despicable and meaningless".
What we need is a concern for ourselves as individuals and our relation to others. We cannot show a concern by allowing ourselves to be enveloped by apathy and indifference, for these stifle the power of the individual, and render him useless for human fulfillment. In so doing he is degrading the very essence of individuality by permitting the society to manipulate him.

In the words of Stevenson (R. L.)
"Some people swallow society like a pill. It is better to emit a scream in the shape of a theory than to be insensible to the jars and incongruence of society and accept with forlorn stupidity".


by a million
wings of fire-
the rocket tore a tunnel through the sky-
and everybody cheered. Fueled
only by a thought from God-
the seedling
urged its way
through the thickness of black-
and as it pierced
the heavy ceiling of the soil-
and launched itself
up into outer space-

L’éducation universitaire offre à chaque individu une somme de connaissances ou nous pouvons puiser une plus grande compréhension de nous-mêmes et de notre milieu. Cette compréhension devrait nous permettre de donner une plus grande signification à certains aspects incohérents de notre société qui réclament des engagements actifs et positifs. Les attitudes défaitistes ou passives adoptées au nom de la paix et de la tranquillité ne sont qu'une négation de nos propres capacités d'expression et de nos convictions.

Il est évident que le savoir acquis a U.N.B. n'a pas permis a la majorité d'entre nous de déboucher sur une pensée ou une action plus significative. Nous sommes bien installes ici, aujourd'hui, au milieu d'un monde de délusions "originant de l'apathie" et de "l'indifférence" face a un monde qui ne nous assure de rien sinon que des eaux polluées, un atmosphère irrespirable et du chômage.
D'autre part, peut-être qu'en retour, nous n'avons rien à offrir à la société puisque déjà nous sommes demeures silencieux devant ces diverses situations.

Depuis toujours, la jeunesse a été une source d'espoir et de salut pour l'humanité. Nous les finissants '71 ne pouvons offrir que peu d'espoir et de salut parce, que nous sommes devenus inflexibles, insensibles et indifférents malgré nos tentatives d'ouverture et de disponibilité. Nous sommes une génération de paradoxe "Comme l'abeille, nous distillons le poison du miel pour notre propre protection; mais qu'arrive-t-il a l'abeille si elle utilise son dard? Nous savons la suite".

Pour parvenir a des changements profonds dans la société, il va d'abord falloir changer nous-mêmes comme personnes. "Car nous avons trouve l’ennemi et il est nous". (V. Hugo)

Au revoir, mes amis et bonne chance!

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