National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 5. Copyright 2009 National Collegiate Honors Council.


The theme of my address is simple: welcome to a community of people who think otherwise. First, recognize that you are a community. That may be hard to see at first sight: you come from a wide range of various backgrounds, from big cities and small country towns, from affluent and financially struggling families, from a variety of races and creeds. However, you have much in common with each other, beginning with the talent and record of achievement that got you here. Possessing intelligence and curiosity about the world, you are also likely at one time or another to feel out of step with your fellow students, not only in the university at large but among your fellow Buchanan scholars as well. You think otherwise. And that’s a good thing. It does not mean cultivating eccentricity for its own sake (those who advised Malvolio in Twelfth Night to put himself into the trick of singularity did not wish him well). No, truly to think otherwise is simply to find yourself resisting the herd instinct, to refuse to be satisfied with hand-me-down ideas, trendy truisms, robotic talking points, the prechewed meat of the mind. You would not be here this evening if to one degree or another you had not learned to savor the experience of fresh ideas. To one degree or other you have had access to a secret that you share, whether or not you recognize your fellows in this room as secret sharers. Yes, you have discovered a great secret, one that you may have experienced with various degrees of guilt—namely this: the human brain is an erogenous zone. The life of the mind is a source of pleasure and passion. Go on and cherish it, savor it, indulge in it.