Good evening everyone,
In the1960s, the phrase "The times, they are a-changing" was aptly used to describe a truly unique time in the growth of our country. The decade became associated with among other things, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, the sexual revolution, and a time to question everything we were taught and what we believed. I think it's safe to say that our times are changing, and not for the better. Yet despite all that's going on in the world, the one thing that hasn't changed is the commitment to prepare yourself to do what you need to do to make a goal materialize. Very rarely does it ever happen overnight. But many times I've questioned myself if I really am ready to do the things that need to be done.
I was recently watching the 1987 movie "The Untouchables" on cable, which remains one of my favorite movies because of one special scene. For those who are unfamiliar, the film deals with the struggles of Eliot Ness, an agent with the Bureau of Prohibition (which falls under the U.S. Department of the Treasury), who is struggling with the process of bringing Al Capone and his gang to justice. Kevin Costner, who plays Ness, is pondering this dilemma in a church as he is talking to Sean Connery (who won the Oscar for playing Jimmy Malone, an Irish police officer). "I am prepared to do everything within the means of the law," Ness states matter of factly. "And then what are you prepared to do?" retorts Malone back, questioning his commitment to fulfilling his goal. "If you open the ball on these people, you must be prepared to go all the way. If you really want to get Capone, here's what you do. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way. That's how you get Capone." No doubt dramatic, but the point is made clearly.
I bring this scene up because we're rapidly approaching the end of June, and there will be commencements for all high schools, a few of which have taken place already. I never did attend my moving up exercises, for my feelings of guilt and loneliness overwhelmed me. Yet I see so much hope in the eyes of today's graduates. Every generation has its challenges to face, and this one more than many. Yet if you are prepared to do what you need to do, there's no limit to what you can achieve.
I can still recall vividly the early days of my junior college years. Many students in my graduating class attended college at one of the State University of New York Schools. Albany and Buffalo were pretty popular choices-mainly because it was not too far from home, but just enough to get away from the parental influences. Of course, that doesn't go for Buffalo, which is an eight hour drive if you go nonstop from Long Island. I wanted to go away to school, but I didn't do what had to be done to earn that right. Instead of taking my classes seriously, I often fooled around, and barely graduated with a C+ average. I started off at Nassau Community College, and learned a great deal about myself and the commitment it takes to making things happen. I had to learn to get up at 6 a.m. for 8 a.m. classes, manage my time, fight the frustrations of parking. I also learned most importantly to answer the question posed by most of my teachers: "Why are you here?" And no, it's not enough to say you want to get an education. There has to be more. There needs to be a undying commitment to show you want it. More than anyone else does.
I had my days when I absolutely wanted to be elsewhere. In fact, wouldn't you know I actually ran into one of my classmates at NCC (as it is known) a couple of months after graduation. I asked him what happened, and he said he was asked to leave-his GPA fell below the minimum and he had to return home to build his grades back up. He wasn't someone I was close to, but I asked him if he could offer any advice. "Be focused," was all he told me. Nothing else needed to be said.
So I ask you what are you prepared to do about your stuttering? Sure, there is speech therapy. Some people go, others choose not to, and that is their right. Are you prepared to represent yourself as someone who refuses to let their speech define them? Are you able to motivate yourself, and lead others as well? These questions, and many more, are able to be answered by one person. You can find it within yourself. And if you need some more inspiration, get involved with the NSA Nation, at http://www.westutter.org!
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.