Friday, February 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

So what to say to graduates this commencement season?

By
From page A2 | May 08, 2012 |

Let the commencement addresses begin.

Of course, if college graduates are not being encouraged by a speaker to pursue their dreams, it’s probably because they are being told to “chart their own course” or “find their passion” instead. Such are the mainstays of modern American culture, you see.

Case in point: Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, gave the commencement address to the graduating class at Stanford University in 2005. Even before his cancer death in 2011, it was heralded by Time magazine as one of the top 10 great college-commencement addresses ever given. Jobs talked about his experience with cancer, first thinking after he was diagnosed that he would swiftly succumb to it, then being told it was curable. He said:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. . . . And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. . . . Everything else is secondary.”

Earlier in the address, he had said:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

I admired Jobs and love my Mac products as much as the next person. He was clearly a person of integrity who also lived and thought outside the box. But throughout this speech, Jobs was almost an avatar for the extreme individualism that has come to rule our age and, I would argue, leads to misery more than contentment.

After all, building on other people’s thinking is generally what gives us civilization. By the way, sometimes our work isn’t “great” in a worldly sense, even to us. Often we don’t love it. But maybe in doing it to provide for a family we are putting others ahead of ourselves or tying ourselves to our communities. I happen to think that’s not just settling. In this “all about me” age, it’s heroic.

A generation earlier, President Ronald Reagan gave a very different speech, to the graduates of Notre Dame. It was 1981 and Reagan, too, had had a near-death experience, an assassination attempt just weeks earlier. Funny, but I couldn’t find his talk on a Time top-10 list even though it was in that speech that Reagan famously, and presciently, said that the West would not defeat communism, but would transcend it. (For which he was mocked at the time.)

Far from extolling radical individualism, which has never been a conservative tenet, he talked about the sacrifices of America’s founders, and how they had created something unique in human history:

“My hope today is that in the years to come — and come it shall — when it’s your time to explain to another generation the meaning of the past and thereby hold out to them their promise of the future, that you’ll recall the truths and traditions of which we’ve spoken. It is these truths and traditions that define our civilization and make up our national heritage. And now, they’re yours to protect and pass on.”

And:

“I have one more hope for you: When you do speak to the next generation about these things, that you will always be able to speak of an America that is strong and free, to find in your hearts an unbounded pride in this much-loved country, this once and future land, this bright and hopeful nation whose generous spirit and great ideals the world still honors.”

Reagan sought to help the graduates he was addressing understand that their significance came not from a notion of radical self, but from the link they were in the long chain of civilization itself.

This May, graduates will most likely hear from commencement speakers observations very much along the lines of Steve Jobs’ famous words. But I think today’s graduates would be better served by being reminded of Ronald Reagan’s less-exalted sensibilities.

Betsy Hart is the author of the new ebook, “From The Hart: A Collection of Favorite Columns on Love, Loss, Marriage (and Other Extreme Sports).” Reach her through [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Fairfield mayor ready to share a whale of a tale

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Oakland author, vet talks about researching Vietnamese side of war

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Nonagenarian recounts life as spy in World War II

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
     
    Republican women to hear about immigration reform

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

     
    2-day event will focus on bullying prevention

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    Kaiser offers Capoot scholarships

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk to chair committee on state’s wine industry

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

     
    Suisun City police log: Feb. 25, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Fairfield police log: Feb. 25, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    .

    US / World

    Llamas on the loose trends on Twitter

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Two inured in hazmat explosion

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    No charges yet for train crash truck driver

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Sacramento man pressured to remove swastikas

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

    Not guilty plea for suspect in Hollywood exec murder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    After 67 years of marriage, couple dies holding hands

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Missing 400-year-old Italian books found in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Feds: 3 accused in Islamic State plot vocal about beliefs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Saudi man convicted of conspiracy in ’98 US embassy bombings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Panel: Use new meningitis vaccines only for outbreaks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    VA chief backs outside medical care as new program falters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    House GOP weighs new approach on Homeland Security

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Vandalism in Arizona shows the Internet’s vulnerability

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Prosecutor: Mom craved attention, poisoned child with salt

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Ukraine, rebels start pulling back heavy weapons in the east

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    ‘Jihadi John’ raised in UK, studied computers, reports say

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Feb. 27, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Feb. 27, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Feb. 27, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    I’m worrie about how my wife’s erratic behavior is affecting our kids

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    Week in preview Feb. 27-March 5, 2015

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Review: Smith, Robbie pour on the charm in sharp ‘Focus’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Custom dress Lupita Nyong’o wore at Oscars reported stolen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Conan O’Brien takes his show to Cuba for a special hour

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    ABC’s Sawyer does prime-time prison special

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Q&A: Writer-director-actor Mark Duplass is a busy guy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Actor Will Patton charged with DUI in native South Carolina

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    AP Exclusive: Redmayne lends voice to “Thomas & Friends”

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Entertainment Calendar: Feb. 27, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

     
    Tea Leoni in a happy state as star of ‘Madam Secretary’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Graceland brings Elvis back to his Las Vegas home

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    A’s begin baseball’s mandatory domestic violence training

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Earthquakes set to open new MLS stadium

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    LeBron scores 42, Cavs beat Warriors for 18th win in last 20

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
     
    NASCAR back on track for extra day of testing in Atlanta

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    No word on possible MLB discipline for Angels star Hamilton

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Giants closer Casilla hit on shin during batting practice

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    LeBron not happy colleges recruiting 10-year-old son

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    IOC member, once critical of Rio, now sees ‘great progress’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Judge rules for Peterson, opening door for reinstatement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Herman survives windy day; McIlroy stumbles at Honda Classic

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Roberts, NBA writers open discussion over locker room access

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    IOC relaxes rule on athletes and sponsors during Olympics

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Nevada gambling regulators sign off on Olympic betting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Video shows Hernandez dancing near gas pump before killing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Kings’ Collison to have surgery, re-evaluated in 3-6 weeks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    AP source: 49ers to bid to host college football title game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Bulls say Rose to have surgery on Friday

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Business

    Volkswagen Jetta is a pleasure to live with, not just to gawk at

    By Washington Post | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    5 things to know about ‘net neutrality’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Regulators approve tougher rules for Internet providers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Strong reliability scores should help Buick brand’s rebirth

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

    Nissan executive known as ‘father of the Z’ dies at 105

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

     
    Medical marijuana passes tough first hurdle in Utah

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Applications for US jobless aid rise to 313,000

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    Google looks for more revenue from ads in Android app store

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Walmart CEO wading through mounting issues

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    Pew study: Americans still stressed despite improved economy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Facebook allows users to ‘fill in’ gender option

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Donald Grimm

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Gabriel T. Traub

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    Maria Kraszewski

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9