Monday, May 17, 2010


All is well with my EV commutes and there has not been much to report on lately. As the weather is getting hotter, the air is also getting smoggier. With no AC in the car, I find myself driving with the windows down and breathing the emissions from hundreds of ICE vehicles while stuck in the occasional traffic gridlocks.

Speaking of gridlocks, my wife recently stumbled on a speech that Tom Hanks made at a college graduation that we found very inspiring. Read below.

by Tom Hanks

Today's main purpose is to celebrate your entering into society, but the fact is you have all been very much steeped in it already- Poughkeepsie being the proxy and microcosm of the whole wide world. None of you were untouched by the events in September of your freshman year, none unaffected by the ideological movements of local and geo-politics since. All of you have been staring your individual fate and our collective future right in the eye for the last four years. The common stereotype would have you today, cap in the air, parchment in hand, asking yourself "what do I do now?" You, the class of 2005, have already had many, many moments during your time at Vassar when you asked yourself that question. You might have added the word 'Hell', or some such four-letter word to the phrase: "What the HELL do I do now?" In which case, today might not be all that different from other days on campus-- except your parents are here and they might take you out for better food.

On Commencement Day, speech makers are expected to offer advice--as though you need any, as though anything said today could aid your making sense of our one-damn-thing-after-another world. Things are too confused, too loud, and too dangerous to make 'advice' an option. You need to hear something much more relevant on this day. You need to hear the most important message thus far in the third millennium. You need to hear a maxim so simple, so clear and evocative that no one could misconstrue its meaning or miss its weighty issue.

So, here goes. It's not a statement, but a request. Not a bit of advice, but a plea. It is, in fact, a single four-letter word, a verb and a noun which takes into account the reality of your four years at Vassar as well as the demands of the next four decades you spend beyond this campus.

It's a message, once made familiar by the Beatles--those Northern English lads who embodied The Power of Four.


We need help. Your help. You must help. Please help. Please provide Help. Please be willing to help. Help... and you will make a huge impact in the life of the street, the town, the country, and our planet. If only one out of four of each one hundred of you choose to help on any given day, in any given cause-- incredible things will happen in the world you live in.

Help publicly. Help privately. Help in your actions by recycling and conserving and protecting, but help also in your attitude. Help make sense where sense has gone missing. Help bring reason and respect to discourse and debate. Help science to solve and faith to soothe. Help law bring justice, until justice is commonplace. Help and you will abolish apathy-- the void that is so quickly filled by ignorance and evil.

Life outside of college is just like life in it: one nutty thing after another, some of them horrible, but all interspersed with enough beauty and goodness to keep you going. That's your job, to keep going. Your duty is to help-- without ceasing. The art you create can glorify it. The science you pursue can prove its value. The law you practice can pass on its benefits. The faith you embrace will make it the earthly manifestation of your God.

Here at Vassar whatever your discipline, whatever your passion you have already experienced the exhausting reality that there is always something going on and there is always something to do. And most assuredly you have sensed how effective and empowering it can be when more than four out of one hundred make the same choice to help.

You will always be able to help.

So do it. Make peace where it is precious. Help plant trees. Help embrace diversity and celebrate differences. Help stop gridlock.

In other words, help solve every problem we face - every single one of them--with the Power of Four out of a hundred. Help and we will save the world. If we don't help--it won't get done.

Congratulations. Good luck. Thank you.

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