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What is the subject of the speech "Attitude" by Margaret Atwood?

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The sentiments and topics of Margaret Atwood's speech "Attitude," given more than thirty years ago, are still applicable today.

Seemingly light and humorous in tone, "Attitude" starts with anecdotes and recounts Atwood's own time during college and after her graduation. The core message of the speech is not reached until the end stages, when Atwood confesses there is a "hidden agenda" to her words.

She goes on to say that the world "is both half empty and half full," making the analogy that while nature is beautiful, it is slowly being destroyed by humanity because we lack the will to stop making mistakes. Atwood references the Soviet/US brinkmanship of the 1980s, stating, "We secretly think in terms not of 'If the Bomb Drops' but of 'When the Bomb Drops,' and it’s understandable if we sometimes let ourselves slide into a mental state of powerlessness and consequent apathy."

These depressing examples point to Atwood's real message, which is that people can either accept the status quo,...

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