At Harvard University’s commencement this year, University President Faust introduced the keynote speaker, Stephen Spielberg, celebrated filmmaker. His commencement address centered on the importance of each individual’s personal discovery of their authentic self as they enter the outside world; and his words reflected the world accurately in so many ways; in ways that I’m sorry to say that these newest graduates must deal with.
Mr. Spielberg alluded that the world has been sliding back into disunity, blind hatred, cynicism and distrust despite the world war of 70 years ago. He wasn’t referring only to anti-Semitism, but Islam, other races, economic status, and religions. The unity that many of us post-WWII children felt and experienced in times of victory, such as the moon landing, and tragedy, like September 11, seems to have faded from memory, replaced by fears, anger and hatred.
Mr. Spielberg, after advising that these graduates trust their “inner whisper” in order to become their authentic selves, challenges us to look up from our devices and “make eye contact” with others – even those we don’t know, and stay connected – to family, fellow students, friends. If we don’t, there’s a possibility that we will become islands of isolation, without empathy for others in need, and ignoring the call to serve our human family.
I believe you will be moved by Mr. Spielberg’s words as I was, and he certainly delivered them with love and humor. Here is his speech at Harvard’s commencement.
It takes just a few actions to change the world around us. May we all have the courage to do just that.
Have a blessed Memorial Day,