|Graduation Address, 2005
Well, it certainly has been a spacey spring around here—we hosted our first ever Super Awesome Astronomy Fair (thanks Mrs. Seeburger), and then the Carnival made for a star-studded space-exploring extravaganza. All this, and Star Wars Episode 3 the movie came out to the theaters too—the grand finale of that timeless saga set in space far away and a long, long time ago.
Let’s take a moment to consider the wisdom of the great philosopher and Jedi Knight, Yoda. Remember, he is not just a swashbuckling, light saber wielding, double back flipping fighter. He is a teacher too, a teacher to young and aspiring Jedis, a teacher almost as wise and profound as your own Saklan teachers are.
Now it is true, the ultimate purpose of Yoda’s teachings is to elevate his students to go out to the universe and conquer evil. To quote him: “Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be. And confront him you will.” Like any Jedi—you Saklan students will go out to the wider world to brave great challenges and accomplish great things—we hope you will not have to conquer evil, however—, and your teachers have trained you well for that.
But I would like to point out that much more importantly, Yoda first teaches a young Jedi, like your teachers teach you, to control yourself. Your learning must guide you to look inward at yourself, and understand who you are and what makes you tick. Listen to Yoda’s words of wisdom:
Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is, but much to learn you still have
Beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they
Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things
A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind
Yoda follows in the path of history’s greatest teachers, such as Socrates, and the Greek tradition of which he was a part, which counseled its warriors that to succeed in war they must first “Know thyself” and understand their limitations, and work to restrain their emotions from becoming too extreme. Socrates said that it is so important to try to understand yourself that “the unexamined life is not even worth living.”
So Saklan students and graduates, you too must live the examined life. You too should learn like a Jedi does to first know yourself, know your own capacities, and learn to practice the self-control that empowers you to do exactly what you want—the right thing. And then, once you have your self-knowledge, and self-control, nothing will be impossible for you. As Yoda says, when you have learned fully about yourself, you are in a position where you can “Do or do not. There is no try.”