Back on the theme of me making up for missed posts is this brief one on JK Rowling’s speech at the Harvard University graduation ceremonies this year. From what I understand, there was some controversy that such an esteemeduniversity would invite a popular children’s novelist to be the main speaker. I had no expectations. I was pretty much there just to see a celebrity (actually, I was there to see Alison graduate from law school, I went to the speech to seek Rowling). She started off funny and then knocked my socks off. It was beautifully written and both of her themes resonated with me. It also didn’t hurt any that her social responsibility message involved the idea of the birth lottery which is, to me, probably the most important component of a convincing system of ethics. My favorite section is excerpted below. You can watch above or read the whole text here.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.