Reeve encourages audience to push for social change

Published: March 31, 2004  |  Source: dailypennsylvanian.com
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s-406a8acc437eb-45-1Activist and former actor Christopher Reeve speaks to a packed audience at Irvine Auditorium last night. He advised students to follow their morals.

Bringing audience members to tears last night, acclaimed actor and activist Christopher Reeve urged a sold-out Irvine Auditorium to strive to change the world.

“I know you have had a very long list of distinguished speakers, but I’m glad you made an exception in my case,” Reeve said.

Reeve, who is most famous for his role as Superman, spoke as the spring speaker for the Social Planning and Events Connaissance Committee. He is currently a leading spokesman for people with spinal cord injuries and disabilities.

The content of his speech moved many members of the audience.

“He made me cry like five times,” College junior Dianali Rivera said. “I mean, he’s Superman — one of the people you see on TV and people always talk about.”

Reeve spoke about the need for change and a re-evaluation of values in today’s society.

“I see the world today with my hands over my eyes, peeking through … and thinking I can’t believe what’s going on,” Reeve said.

“When I was a kid I thought we were facing the worst,” he added. “We didn’t know what we know now. … Today we know too much.”

He cited TV shows such as American Idol and The Apprentice as examples of the greed that is prominent in the world today.

“Where are the values? What happened to learning to make the most of yourself and what you are given?” Reeve asked.

“I promised I wouldn’t get political here and I really won’t,” Reeve said as he proceeded to discuss such controversial topics as the Environment, religion and social action.

The need for social change was Reeve’s predominant message

“The more you let go and give, the more you will be rewarded in ways you may not even understand,” Reeve said.

Reeve stressed that although turning on the news every day may be heartbreaking, we all have the opportunity, especially as college students, to save the world.

“At a place like Penn, you have the opportunity to learn about tolerance and diversity,” Reeve said. “Use it for some form of giving back to the world.”

Reeve spoke of his own ability to give back after his tragic horseback riding accident and the joys it has brought him.

“I’m not saying I prefer this over my previous life, but this opportunity and journey has been surprisingly rewarding,” Reeve said.

“I wouldn’t do it over again, but if you get dealt a raw hand … you can make something out of it,” he continued. “My message to you is you don’t need to break your neck to find out about that.”

Reeve did not shy away from the pointed questions from the audience that followed his speech.

“I don’t mind controversy; if you can present an image to provoke discussion, I think it’s a good thing,” Reeve said in response to an inquiry about his highly debated Super Bowl ad that used digital imagery to depict him walking.

Reeve was given a standing ovation by the enthusiastic audience.

“It was one of the most moving speeches I have heard as an undergraduate,” Connaissance Co-Director and Wharton sophomore Raymond Win said.

“His message of hope is a powerful one that really impacted a lot of the students,” he added.

Other attendees were equally impressed.

“Christopher Reeve is someone I grew up with as Superman. To see him sitting here today sharing some important long-lasting messages makes events like these worth attending,” College junior Wenshuai Wan said.