"I feel encouraged that you will be bringing all you have learned to contribute to the common good, to the future."

Cora Weiss, President of the Hague Appeal for Peace

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Cora Weiss, Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree

I’ve come from the President’s inauguration to his graduation.  I feel like a pair of book ends.

Thank you, Dr. Scott, thank you Trustees. It’s an honor to be honored by Adelphi. Congratulations to every one of you especially to your families, without whose caring help you would not be here.

At your inauguration, Dr. Scott, I quoted Carl Sandburg, “Nothing happens unless first a dream.” I still dream. Not daydreams, but ‘what if?’ dreams. What if things were different? I came determined not to tell you what to do.  But may I suggest some things left to be done?

I feel encouraged that you will be bringing all you have learned to contribute to the common good, to the future. No matter what you decide to do, you will be affected by some of the issues we all face. The things left to be done.

I see the arc of violence bending from Sana to Ramadi to Donetsk to Staten Island, Ferguson and Baltimore. I see millions of refugees and climate conditions in Nepal and Oklahoma devastating lives and homes. Even violent extremism has raised its ugly head in our country. The day following the deadly Amtrak spill, a committee of Congress cut their budget. If you are torn between doing well and doing good, a recent published study says that public defender lawyers are happier than better paid corporate lawyers. Doing good wins.

The US may be the number one  most powerful nation in the world, but we rank 16th according to the Social Progress Index. (NYT 4/19/15 Nicholas Kristof) Women still earn a lot less than men and the Arctic sea ice has shrunk. (NYT) Poverty is rampant in the world’s richest country and racism did not go away with the civil war.

I dream that no matter what else you do, you will do one thing to reverse these trends. Change happens. “Change come fast, change come slow, but change come.” says Caroline in Tony Kushner’s play. Even miracles happen. If Cuba’s President Raul Castro can go back to prayer and to the church, you can raise the Social Progress Index.

Good luck and enjoy the adventure of life.

See other 2015 Commencement Speeches.

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