Ben Stein speaks on “How to Ruin Your Life

Corey Lehnert

Criticize early and often, don’t be grateful, and if things aren’t perfect, just stay home and get high. Ben Stein delivered these and other ways to ruin your life in his talk in the Memorial Chapel Wed., May 9.
The talk, sponsored by the LU College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation, opened with an eclectic marimba piece by senior Mike Truesdell. A welcome from College Republicans chairman Ken Alvord and a brief introduction from Senator Bob Welch followed.
Before jumping into the body of his speech, Stein waxed poetic about Lawrence University and the Appleton area, commenting on the number of “good-looking young men and women” on the campus and promising that he would try his hardest to attain a professorship at Lawrence for the following year.
Stein then offered a few jokes to the delight of the crowd, expressing his solidarity with the Lawrence community by poking fun at Ripon and St. Norbert.
The body of the speech, in accord with its title “How to Ruin Your Life,” consisted of a series of remarks inspired by lessons learned from family, friends and the odd politician.
Stein, commenting that he has seen people on the “summit of human power ruin their lives,” imparted a few points of advice on how people should not act if they wish to live lives free from the mistakes of past generations.
Stein continued in this vein, providing a sarcastic and biting commentary on how to ruin America. Although the talk was sponsored by right-leaning organizations, Stein’s criticism was surprisingly bipartisan. He cited problems with both Democrats and Republicans and condemned the foreign policy decisions of the Bush administration as well as the work of activist judges.
Stein’s tone changed as he neared the close of the speech. Whereas he began jovially, his talk concluded on a more sober and personal note, recounting his father-in-law’s heroic service in World War II and Vietnam.
Decidedly pro-military, Stein said that he expressed disappointment when asked what it was like to live among stars in Malibu, as he considers the men and women of the armed forces who fight on behalf of the American people to be America’s real stars.
He finished by encouraging the audience to take an active role in society, urging them to work hard, ask questions and respect others. As he said, referencing Martin Luther King, Jr., by helping and serving others we can create a Heaven on earth.