Updated: May 23
"Some changes look negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge."
I don't think I've ever felt simultaneously as happy and as bad for a group of people as I do for the young men and women who are graduating right now from high school and college. It's a huge achievement, a milestone for you to be truly proud of. But it's also one that comes with so many rites that you had been looking forward to for years, which will not happen as promised.
On top of that you are commencing great journeys at a time when the whole world has to some extent lost its bearings. The immediate future -- how long this pandemic will force us to make drastic changes in our lives -- is uncertain. And nobody knows exactly what our world is going to look like when it gets back to its "new normal". That makes charting your course a tricky proposition.
And it's not my place to say where I think someone's course should lead them--I believe all of you have compasses that will be true to you. What I would like share, though, is the reason that I have such tremendous hope for you all, and for a society that will one day be in your care.
I believe that as you go forward, you will understand like no other generation in modern memory, just how fragile are all the things we all grew up taking for granted. You've seen, just as you head out into the world, how quickly all those things can go away, and why. And for that reason, I also believe, you will live adult lives in defense of those things.
Some of you will dedicate your lives to knowledge: researching and teaching and reporting so that your world better understands . Some of you will dedicate your lives to art--and thank God, because no knowing means anything if we don't have people who inspire us to feel. Others will commit to commerce, and I wish you the very best while praying that the tides of your fortune raise all ships. There will be those of you who wear uniforms and take oaths to protect your community and your country. And there are no doubt those among you who will devote yourselves to healing others, and to standing vigilant guard over the public health.
Know that whatever you choose to do, you will make a difference. Challenge always creates opportunity. And it is in times of precisely times like these, when the world is in disarray, that it is its most ready for change. I take a lot of comfort knowing that as you strike out in this very challenging time, that you will be ready to affect that change.
I look forward to shaking your hands. In the meantime, Congratulations.