To the editor: I wish I could remember the words of advice I heard from my classmates at either my high school or college commencement addresses. I think the speakers likely told us how we had been prepared to face the challenges we will face in the years ahead.
With that thought in mind, I enjoyed reading a number of comments that were made at commencement speeches both locally and from various parts of the country. One address that really got my attention noted three specific things graduates should remember as they enter the next phase of their life: have a positive mental attitude; measure your success by what you give to others; and love thy neighbor as thyself.
Life is hard. Life is difficult. Life is going to punch you in the gut. However, when you change your attitude, you change your behavior. When your behavior changes, so do your results.
America is one of the few countries that has the resources and the willingness to help those in need. America is a great nation not because of what we have taken but what we have given. Graduates should measure themselves and their future success by what they give to others and not by what they receive in return.
The third directive references the words of Jesus:: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.” Most people forget He added: “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The reality is we cannot change the world by ourselves. Recall an old proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I’m convinced the leaders of the current Republican Party and our president have never heard an address noting these points. Their goal is to stay in power. Their attempts to restrict voting rights, lack of concern of interference by Russia, China and North Korea in our election process, tax breaks for the rich, questionable health care, separation of children from parents and cruel living conditions for migrants at the border, Trump’s language and rhetoric used at rallies encouraging violence and his vengeful attitude against the media are just a litany of problems ignored or created by the current Republican leaders.
The latest ruling by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court is another nail in the coffin of American democracy. Both parties are guilty of gerrymandering. However, the Republican Party’s successful implementation of Project Redmap in 2011, has led to a situation where Republican power at the state level is out of proportion with voter preference. Removal of the Voting Rights Act and campaign finance restrictions, stripping of power by newly-elected governors in Wisconsin and North Carolina by outgoing Republican legislatures, Mitch McConnell’s blocking of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court and the recent outrageous behavior of Oregon’s Republican senators to prevent a vote on climate change are examples of Republican’s quest for power and a threat to our democracy that our recent graduates must face.
The class of 2019 should be inspired by the greatness of America, by measuring what they give, not by what they receive and remembering the advice of Jesus to love they neighbor as thyself. Unfortunately, theses directives are not representative of the current leadership in the Republican Party and our president, since power and control are more important than serving the people of America.