For my final post on free speech this week, I thought I’d share the transcript of a 2008 commencement speech given by Singaporean author and lawyer, Adrian Tan. The speech is good (and not overly long), but what stands out for me is Tan’s advice to “be hated.”
…every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.
One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.
So true! And it’s rarely said. Few people take kindly to being told they’re wrong, or that they have to change. Say what you believe, and don’t let offense be an excuse to stop talking.