There’s no better time to be alive than now. On average, people are living longer, richer, safer, happier and more peaceful lives. The processes that have pushed us in this direction is not only credited to the robust educational systems – systems that encourage students to solve complex problems, but also students’ willingness to never lose hope. Consider Hillary Clinton who worked at a salmon-processing factory before enrolling into Yale Law School, where she met her future husband, Bill. Or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who had his dreams shattered to play pro football after he graduated in 1995. Or Barack Obama who graduated from Columbia University and started working at low-white-collar jobs, later working as a community organizer before entering Harvard University.
There will be students after this graduation – rich and poor, able and disabled, gay and straight, who will face suffering because of our proclivity to suffer our own accomplishments and wisdom. To suffer our own accomplishments and wisdom is what happens when we have intellectual arrogance, complacency and hopelessness. This is the reason why we have so many high-potential graduates not contributing to humanism and progress because we think that graduation is an end to learning, forgetting that it doesn’t mean anything until it’s used as a force for good. Just like a hiker who acquires knowledge and skills which leads closer to the mountain peak, graduating students should also continue to build knowledge and skills which leads closer to pursuing a coveted goal. It would be remiss if I said that we shouldn’t take a break or enjoy ourselves before getting back to action. That’s very important because it helps the mind and body relax, but we shouldn’t let it get numb because the world needs us.
The world is far better now than it was during Hillary, The Rock and Obama’s time. We see improvement in almost every measure, yet we continue to see problems that slow progress. Every time we take two steps forward, a new problem arises which makes us take one step back. Artificial intelligence, for example, continues to use mathematical models to improve human experiences (self driving cars, interactive kiosks, etc), but it also gets rid of some hard-working employees in the process. There will always be new problems to tackle, new innovations to introduce, and powerful voices to be heard. Our goal as graduates should be to contribute to people living longer, richer, safer, happier and more peaceful lives.
Congratulations class of 2018, God Bless!