Graduation Ceremony of Class 2014

Last Updated: Sunday, 29 June 2014 Published: Friday, 27 June 2014 Written by Daria Mitchell Sorhaindo

 Feature Address - Andra Christian

In 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, then 1st Governor General of Pakistan, said “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”

Today as we see the ladies of Convent High School making their exit from the school gates onto the grander stage of life, we recognize the power that lies within each of you to master the forces around you.  I will consider the pen over the sword as I examine your graduation theme “With the pen of life still in our hands, the rest is yet to be written.”  This is so rich in imagery.  

The pen of life is still in your hands, and this suggests that you are about to wield that tool, the pen of life, with skill.  You are destined to exercise power and control over your life using your hands and the pen to maximize the outcomes.  Remember that the sword is a rival, that the forces of evil will confront you and you are to make choices for your life.  American poet laureate Billy Collins proffered “The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement.  If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you're simply using a pen to record what you have thought out.”  Roman poet Horace wrote “The pen is the tongue of the mind” and a 19th century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, said that "The hand is the visible part of the brain." These thoughts show the link between the pen, the hand and the mind.  In Kant’s philosophy, the human mind is an active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception.   

You had the opportunity while at Convent High School to be involved in active learning through a variety of pedagogical methods.  You got many chances to participate in co-curricular activities that were planned for you, as well as in those you initiated and followed through with the guidance of your teachers and parents.  The experiences gained are expected to make you stronger, more mature and empowered to continue the race for development.  Your school motto “Effort conquers all” should drive you to use your hands to demonstrate that active involvement in any task produces the greatest results.  There are thinkers, initiators, planners and the executors or doers.  Those who run with the ideas of others and carry them to fruition are more likely to be recognized for the results, than those with creative thoughts and no plan of action.  You have heard of the idiom “All hands on deck”.  See how you can integrate thinking with doing, or surround yourself with a team that has the abilities and attributes necessary for following through from initiation to implementation.  

Where does the pen come in?  Simply, document all that you do.  You are well aware that in our local setting, we have a rich oral tradition, but it is only in more recent times that we have seen the value of recording and documenting our history and culture for posterity.  Foreigners come in, see our beauty, recognize the quality of our products and services, as well as the shortage of our patents.  Right there, we lose our trademarks to global entities since they are wiser or more experienced in matters of claiming ownership of intellectual property.  By writing, you will lay your claim to your identity through literature, poetry, music, dance, theatrical works.   Dr. Maya Angelou, an African-American woman who passed just last month, was one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time.  

Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou was a celebrated poet, teacher, activist, artist and human being, and a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace.  She reminded through her writings that “Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright's pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.”  

Revisit your theme “With the pen of life still in our hands, …” Will the operative word be “still”, meaning that there will be no action,  that you will remain a lifeless being with nothing to contribute to the fabric of life? OR will you have the pen continually in your hand making a difference by the action that it takes?  Write! What will your pen write as you hold it in your hands?  Will your writing perpetuate negative images and suffocate hopeful dreams, or will it bring comfort to wounded hearts and soothe ears that have heard only hurtful words?  The power is in your hands as you move on to the next phase in your journey of life, as you write, to be a source of joy to those longing to be uplifted, the voice that speaks for the voiceless and wills them into being, the draughtsman of effective legislation, the proponent for eradicating illiteracy and social ills, the producer of literature for quiet spiritual meditation.

The pen of life is still in your hands.  The rest is yet to be written. Your future lies ahead, with plans that you have conceived and formulated.  An unknown author writes "Life is like writing with a pen. You can cross out your past but you cannot erase it."  That being true, you must ensure that writing for the future is well thought out to produce fewer mistakes.  You are proposing, but God has the final say to dispose of your plans and set you on his chosen path for your life.  Consult him daily in prayer, lay your desires in His hands, and he will supply your needs according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19).  God sees the road ahead and can already steer you away from disaster.  As you write the rest of your life, keep connected to the author of life who will provide the guidance necessary through the positive individuals and situations that He will allow you to encounter.

Graduates, your paths may be different but with all the technology available, you can stay in touch by networking.  Use the lessons and skills that you have acquired through your various associations (eg) with the Credit Unionette, Environmental Club, Choral speech and dance clubs, anti-bullying campaigns, breakfast programme, sporting teams.  Those of you who served in leadership positions through your classes and Houses have chapters to write that will speak to the future generations of exemplary conduct, interpersonal skills, volunteerism and motivation.  The rest is yet to be written, and such edifying initiatives must be allowed to continue in the stories of your lives.  Another unknown author said that “Success is a ladder that cannot be climbed with your hands in your pocket”, so I urge to get busy about using your hands for fulfilling enterprises.

19th century English novelist William Thackeray stated “There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write” .  As I conclude, let me remind each of you that as you hold the pen to write, all the thousand thoughts that run through your mind do not have to be expressed.   Determine which thoughts will be effectively turned into words that allow you to write a story that you would like to read.  Write to excel, live life to the fullest, satisfied for the rest of your life that you have contributed to making a positive difference in the world.

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