Wise Words from Gloria Steinem

It’s Easter Monday, and I’m tired!  I’m not working in a congregation, so I shouldn’t complain, but in the last four days, I attended two Maundy Thursday services, two Good Friday services, one Easter Vigil and one Easter morning service.  They all were fabulous, and it was a wonderful weekend, but it all has left me a little groggy this morning–or maybe it’s the chocolate buzz I’ve been on since we flipped on the lights and sang “Alleluia” on Saturday night…

All this means that I am grateful for the link that came to me in my inbox this morning from a friend.  We had been talking about Gloria Steinem last week [I just started her autobiography–I’m sure I’ll be blogging about that next], and she mentioned that Ms. Steinem had been her graduation speaker, and that the speech had made NPR’s top ten list. She forwarded the speech this morning, and it was a delight to read:  Steinem is witty, generous and wise in about equal measure.  Here’s the link to the speech, if you want to read the whole thing–excerpts are below:  Tufts University Commencement Speech, 1987.

She generously praises the other honorary degree recipients, especially Supreme Court Justice Blackmun.  About him, she says, “So I would like to publicly thank him on behalf of more than 70 percent of Americans who agree with the decision he authored, who believe that a woman’s life is also a human life, and who know that the majority decision he wrote may have saved the lives and health of more women in this country than any other single act in history.” 

She also talks about the distinction between means and ends and notes, “It took me twenty year to figure out that the means are the ends–and vice versa.  Whatever means you use become an organic part of the ends you achieve.”  Boy, is that true.

I also love this bit of wisdom:  “If you have to choose character or intelligence–in a friend or in a candidate–choose character.  Intelligence without character is dangerous, but character without intelligence only slows down a good result.”  Umm….is there a candidate in the race today for whom this might be relevant?

She has some wonderful words about marriage, too, and the continuing evolution of partnerships and gender roles:  “Progress is a circle in which we strive to use all our talents and complete ourselves.  Potentially, we are all winners.”  Love that.

Finally, I really appreciated that she says, “Don’t forget to give at least ten percent of everything you earn to social change….Tithing is the pioneer example and the religious example.”

She concludes, “Whatever you want to do, do it now.  For life is time, and time is all there is.”  A good thought on a beautiful Easter Monday, when the sun is shining, and everything–really, everything–seems possible.

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