Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dreams Are for Losers. A hashtag does not make you Dr King

I love honest and blunt conversations, which are increasingly rare these days.  I care not for those euphemisms and artificial sweetness.  And then I wonder why colleagues shun me and why students do not want me as their instructor! ;)

You can then imagine my sheer delight when my RSS feed (ht) linked to an Ivy League commencement speech, in which the speaker bluntly tells the graduates, "Dreams Are for Losers."
Be a doer, not a dreamer…it’s hard work that makes things happen.
What an awesome line!  If only we can have more such people giving it straight, instead of the the cliched "shoot for the stars" sappy lines.

It is hard work that makes things happen. MK Gandhi was a big time doer--even his walking was not any dreamy, slow pace, but was always at quite a clip that forced a few to nearly sprint and pant while keeping up with him.  MLK did not merely orate about his dreams but worked, and worked hard on the nitty gritty details.  Hard, hard work.  Not daydreams.

The speaker is Shonda Rhimes, who delivered the commencement address at Dartmouth.  I had no idea about Rhimes and, of course, I googled her name.  Darn good credentials.  How could a degree from USC be not good, right? ;)
When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until your dream comes true.
I think that’s crap.
I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.
The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they think and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be…” or “I wish”
I, too, get tired of people--young or old--who sit on their butts all day and merely talk about how they wish for whatever.  When the highfalutin wish is from a young person who is clueless about the world, I am all the more ready to slap them to their senses.  Fortunately, the wish to slap them remains just a wish!
Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
With that alone, the speech is one awesome and timely speech, as far as I am concerned.  But, Rhimes doesn't stop there.  She does more frank talk:
A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething
Hashtags are very pretty on twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing into your computer and then going back to binge watching your favorite show.

What a contrast this speech is, especially in a season of cancellations and withdrawals of commencement speakers who were deemed politically incorrect, despite their fantastic achievements as professionals and people.   

I #Wish all #Commencement addresses were this honest!


Ramesh said...

What have you got against sitting on one's butt ?? I can vouch for it, with personal experience, that it is a delightful occupation :):)

Indeed, all this dreaming is not great. I gag too, when the young are advised to shoot for the stars. Bullshit - has anyone tried to shoot for the stars - you'll not even reach Mt Everest, fall back flat on your ass and then spend a fair time in the occupation that seems to be your pet peeve !!

Life is a slog indeed. But coupled with a reasonable ambition, the slog enables you to reach somewhere.

Sriram Khé said...

Life is a slog, is an understatement.
Sometimes, I have even remarked to students that if they think that the science class is hard and, therefore, they are dropping it, well, life will be one hard knock after another and there is only so much that we can drop.
Sometimes I wonder if I am saying such things because I am OLD or if what I am saying is really the case. You know, I am beginning to seriously wonder, when I am consistently off the majority path!

Yes, there is a huge difference between ambition and daydreaming. To merely go through the motions without an idea of a larger goal, well, that is one awfully unexamined life. How to make the younger folks understand all these, right?

Why am I asking you that, when you are comfy on your retired butt and getting all set for fooooooooootbaaaaaaaaaal!!! ;)

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