Monday, April 19, 2010

Adam Savage's Speech to the Harvard Humanist Society

It starts out funny and gets better as it goes:

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to read my speech from my new iPad.Yep. 
I'm not only a humanist, I'm also an early adopter.

Adam continues with some insightful comments:

By what route does anyone come to believe what they believe? We all like to imagine that it's based on a set of logical facts, but it's often a much more circuitous route.
For me it was pretty simple. I'm actually the fourth generation in my family to have no practical use for the church, or God, or religion. My children continue this trend.

I thought that Savage would take an anti-religion view, based on that introduction, but that wasn't the case:

Prayer doesn't work because someone out there is listening, it works because someone in here is listening. I've paid attention. I've pictured what I want to happen in my life. I've meditated extensively on my family, my future, my past actions and what did and didn't work for me about them. I've looked hard at problems and thought hard about their solutions.
See, I order my life by the same mechanism that I use to build things. I cannot proceed to move tools around in the real world until my brain has a clear picture in it of what I'm building. The same goes for my life. I've tried to pay attention. I've tried to picture the way I want things to be, and I've noticed that when I had a clear picture, things often turned out the way I wanted them to.
I've concluded by this that someone is paying attention—I've concluded that it's me. I've noticed that if I'm paying attention to those around me, to myself, to my surroundings, then that is the very definition of empathy. I've noticed that when I pay attention, I'm less selfish, I'm happier—and that the inverse holds true as well.

The rest of the piece is similarly introspective, especially the realization that as an adult, you soon learn that the heavy lifting is your responsibility. You can check out the entire transcript here.

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