“Reflections on a Paradoxical Reality” - a speech by Kelvin Chin

(The following article and speech was published in the Norwood Messenger, June 11, 1969
in Norwood, Massachusetts after Kelvin delivered this speech to his 412 high school classmates)

The title of the newspaper article was:

“Future Not Hopeless, But Full Of Hope – Kelvin Chin”

The chasm which exists between what is and what would be, the eternal paradox between reality and idealism, was vividly etched Sunday by Kelvin Chin, valedictorian for the Class of 1969. As he delivered his speech, “Reflections on a Paradoxical Reality,” Chin, who has been an outstanding student-leader at the Hilltop, described the self-evident contradictions which exist today in race relations, peace concepts, and protest violence.

Throughout his speech, Kelvin portrayed the gap between man’s comprehension of society’s ills and the ideal society for which he strives. Concluding the challenge to his classmates, he called upon them to “take it upon themselves to close the gap.”

“The future is not hopeless,” he stressed, “On the contrary, it is full of hope.”

Co-editor-in-chief of the TIOT, Kelvin has distinguished himself in a number of activities. A member of Troop 42, Boy Scouts, at the First Congregational Church here, he is the assistant Scoutmaster and an Eagle Scout with three palms along with being a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow. For four years he has been a member of the three bands at the Hilltop, serving as treasurer and secretary of the Concert Band. He held the first chair tenor saxophone of the Southeast District Band also.

An Honor student, he was chairman of the National Honor Society at Norwood High School this year, an English 400 Utopian Science seminar participant, and on the MIT high school studies program. He won honorable mention in the Science Fairs in his first and third years.

He plans to enter Dartmouth College this fall.

The text of his valedictorian speech follows:

“Reflections on a Paradoxical Reality”

“The Earth rotates, and with it revolves the human race. Is it spinning too fast? Are we becoming so dizzy that we are being absorbed by the confusing perplexities of life instead of searching for their answers? As technology advances and as the world population increases, international societies’ political, social, and moral problems grow in number and complexity. With such a melange of problems on so many minds, clashing ideologies and contradictions are inevitable.

“People speak of warring their way to peace. Blow the other guy’s brains out but keep the concept of world brotherhood in the back of your mind. Be an individual according to the status quo. These are a few paradoxes which are confronting mankind as a whole and American society in particular.

“From the beginning, the American Dream has contained as much egotism as it has generosity. In a day of British despotism, it was daring to proclaim that “all men are created equal.” Yet the Founding Fathers excluded the Negro from the national egalitarian ideal.

“Formally, blacks were seeking equal rights – in restaurants, in voting booths and on buses. They had been suppressed for almost 200 years and it was high time that, with the help of the Supreme Court, some positive action was initiated to alleviate the segregation situation. This was the 1954 to 1965 civil rights legislation period.

“It is now 1969 and the “tables have been turned.” Some blacks on campus are now demanding black dormitories and black dining facilities. The white segregation of blacks is unconstitutional but is not the reverse also unconstitutional? The idea held by some Black Power leaders of a “separate but equal” society is harmful to their societal adjustment. It is time to establish good relationships among all races.

“Violence and disorder are devouring a society seeking peace and world brotherhood. One glance at our streets and college campuses gives us the pathetic picture. How can our great nation be the promoter of international love and understanding if she herself is suffering from internal wounds?

“Rape, beatings, and murders are a few of the crimes law enforcement officials are increasingly noting in their record books. The time has come when we can no longer amble down a city street with a completely relaxed feeling.

“Some people seem to think that those who violate the laws of public order ought not to be punished if their violation has protest as its purpose. They feel that their sanctuary lies in the First Amendment which provides freedom to speak and to write, to protest and persuade, and to assemble. But the First Amendment means what it says. It guarantees freedom to speak and freedom of the press – not freedom to destroy property or to assault recruiters for munitions firms or for the armed services. The First Amendment protects the right to assemble and petition, but it requires that the right be peaceably exercised.

“Now this is not saying that protest is bad, but when it infringes on the rights and property of others, this is bad. No matter how beneficial the ends might be, they do not necessarily justify the means.

“Individualism is an idea lauded by many but practiced by relatively few. This is primarily due to society’s infatuation for “not rocking the boat.” Many people are afraid that if they express themselves individually, they will be ostracized until their return to the status quo. These “individuals” hurt themselves and their fellow man by remaining silent. Through their failure to say what they feel is right, they jeopardize their personal integrity which could result in unnecessary inner doubts and fears. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed it, “Stand up for righteousness, stand up for the truth.”

“Perhaps the worst “scene” is the war “scene” on this Earth of 1969. Fighting in the Middle East, Asia, and in Africa makes us feel insecure and apprehensive in this civilized world of ours. We read of bloodshed and rotting corpses, of disease and starvation.

“In Vietnam, we are fighting to maintain peace. This does not make sense but neither does the concept of war. We intervened in Vietnam to halt the bacteria-like growth of Communism which threatens world peace. Now Communism has worked effectively; the system is fulfilling its goal of productivity. The difficulty arises when the American point of view comes into the picture. We are being mesmerized by our very own propaganda. The concept of “what is good for us, is good for everybody” is not infallible. Maybe American democracy is not the answer for the Vietnamese people.

“This is our reality, a grim one but a very real one. And it is our responsibility as members of the human race to overcome these blunders and begin anew.

“It’s not a big bowl of cherries” or “it’s not all peaches ‘n cream.” These are expressions frequently used to describe life. And they’re both true. There are times when you feel as if you’re zipping along at 80 miles an hour on a superhighway and there are other occasions when you feel you’ve run out of gas in the middle of a desert. This is all part of the confusing game of life. Regardless of how formidable it sometimes appears, we must not lose our sense of balance. We must not lose our perspective on life itself.

“Paradoxes result because there is a gap – a gap between man’s comprehension of society’s ills and the ideals for which society strives. As individuals, we must take it upon ourselves to close this gap. 

The future is not hopeless. On the contrary, it is full of hope!”


Kelvin H. Chin wrote this speech when he was 17 years old. In the photo, he is delivering the speech to an audience of 2,000 guests, teachers, and students at his high school graduation in Norwood, Massachusetts.

He is now a Meditation Teacher, Life After Life Expert, and Author of “Overcoming the Fear of Death.” He learned to meditate at age 19, and has been teaching Turning Within Meditation and coaching others in their self-growth for 40 years. He helps people understand their life challenges through their individual belief systems, and helps them find their own solutions. His past life memories reach back many centuries, and he accesses those memories in his teaching and his coaching in the same way all coaches draw on their own available experiences for perspective and effective analogies. He can be reached at www.TurningWithin.org.