The list of possible guest speakers to come to Stony Brook University is out and the names are, to say the least, quite impressive. Among them are Dennis Rodman, NBA legend and “Diplomat to North Korea”; Michio Kaku, world-renowned theoretical physicist; Lil B, famous rapper; and Spike Lee, film director and producer. Each of these men will undoubtedly will share indispensable insight on topics ranging from politics to music to science, but nonetheless, to me, there are two that stand out for distinct reasons.
We can start with the obvious choice: Michio Kaku. Let’s face it, this is the choice people expect us to make here at Stony Brook: an expert physicist coming to one of the country’s leading science universities to talk about, well, physics. I have listened to and watched Michio Kaku; he is one of the most interesting and intelligent people on this planet and a modern day Einstein. He delivers his lectures with such fluidity and devotion that it is easy to forget that what he is talking about is beyond your scope of intelligence and, in fact, also beyond that of most of the scientific world.
Besides his unmatched intellect and affability, Kaku is the embodiment of the American dream. His parents were among the first Japanese to immigrate to the United States and he thrived in an era in which immigrants in general were not particularly welcomed by the majority of Americans. Kaku has done it all; he built a particle accelerator as a child and enlisted in the army as an adult. This man is truly an inspiration and we would all be greatly honored to have him speak at Stony Brook University.
This brings me to the other most notable man on the list: Dennis Rodman. Yes, I mean Dennis Rodman. The freakishly tall, historically hot-tempered, tattoo-covered, piercing-littered, hair-dying retired NBA All-Star, champion, Defensive Player of the Year and Hall of Famer. If you know anything about the NBA, you know Dennis Rodman. His fierce, unrelenting, competitive nature made him every opponent’s nightmare and every coach’s dream. He was a defensive juggernaut and a rebounding machine; he made a man out himself through sheer determination and effort.
Despite his remarkable achievements on the court, it is what Rodman has been able to do off the court which makes his appearance at Stony Brook so enticing. He is one of the few men in this country, let alone in the world, who can say that he has spent time in the world’s most mysterious nation with the world’s most mysterious man. Granted, he is not allowed to speak much of his experiences in North Korea with Kim Jong Un, but he is still allowed to share some of what he took from it. Rodman has gone on record to say that Jong Un is a basketball fan and from that common ground, the two established at least the beginnings of friendship. Rodman’s journey is one of global implications; it shows us that as humans, we are much more similar than we think. However far-reaching and idealistic as it may sound, we need to use our similarities to get past our differences and put a permanent end to all the disunity in the world because there might come a day that the division comes back to bite us in the backside. Rodman’s voyage might as very well be the first step toward this unity.
So who do we choose? The obvious yet unforgettable choice, Michio Kaku, or the wildcard Dennis Rodman? It’s our choice, Stony Brook.