tv Bill Clinton to Deliver Commencement Address at Loyola Marymount University CSPAN May 31, 2016 5:47am-6:06am EDT
much. i want to begin by thanking your chair, kathleen. congratulating her not only on her degree but her work of many years to enable more young peope to go to college. president snyder, thank you for welcoming me here and for your service. and for doing it with such remarkable energy. i want to thank congresswoman maxine waters. and her husband, ambassador sidney williams. maxine for her service and devotion to this district and her longtime friendship to hillary and me which means more than i can say.
there are a lot of proud parents in this audience. people who are in public service. i do want to know that the senator from wyoming and his family are here because his daughter is also in the graduating class. at least two of your alumni are very important parts of your administration. i want to acknowledge the former secretary of defense, rudy deleon, and a man who is not here, tony quellen, who served in the commission for people with disabilities. i am here in two capacities. not just as a commencement speaker but hillary and i claim -- came as a proud member of this class. i want to congratulate tyler's mom and dad and all the parents and family members and support systems that got these graduates
here today as well as the graduates themselves. i am well aware that for most of you, the least important part of the ceremony is my talk. i graduated from georgetown 48 years ago and i can say with some conviction that most people who have been out of college as long as i have cannot remember their commencement speaker, much less what he said. but i remember both and i learned a lot from it will stop -- from it. like you, it started out as a cloudy day. but the mayor of washington, d.c. got up to speak in that moment, a huge thundercloud rolled over. it was incredibly loud. a massive lightning bolt came
out of the sky. walter washington looked at us and said, if we do not get out of here, we're all going to drown. i wish you all the best, if you would like to read my speech, i will send you a copy. good luck. [laughter] that was it. so, i learned that the very finest commencement speeches are both brief and highly relevant. [laughter] so here is my only slightly longer attempt. you are graduating in the most interdependent age in human history. interdependent with each other, within your community, your state, your nation, and the
world. this campus is deemed global imagination. like what you said, like the world on fire. both have to be defined. all that interdependence means is here we are, stuck together. we cannot get away from each other. borders, you name it, we are stuck with interdependence. whether we like it or not, for the rest of your lives, your life will in some way be determined by what happens to other people. by how you react to it, how they treat you, how you treat them, and what larger forces are at work in the world.
the global economy, the internet , mobile technology, the explosion of the social media have unleashed both positive and negative forces. the last two years have seen an amazing explosion of economic, social, political empowerment. they have also laid bare the power of persistent inequalities, political and social instability and identity politics based on the simple proposition that our differences are all that matter. at the root of it all is a simple question. will you define yourselves and your relationship to others in positive or negative terms? if we are bound to share the future, it seems to me that it is clear that all of us have the responsibility each in our own
way, to build up the positive, and to reduce the negative forces of our interdependence. this applies to people on the left, the right, somewhere in the middle, or somewhere out there. there are so many people who feel that they are losing out in the modern world because people either do not see them or they see them only as members of groups that they feel threatened by. young people pushing for immigration reform, clinging to talk to and stop a -- clinging to daca and dapa where there future is uncertain. feels that way. the young people in the black
lives matter movement feel that way. so do the coal miners in communities where their present is bleak, and they think there future is bleak or. ker. that all of us who want to fight climate change, do not give a riff about the wreckage of their lives. it is everywhere. when we try to drift apart in an interdependent age, all that we do is build up the negatives and reduce the positive forces of interdependence. what does set the world on fire mean? it means that you can set the world on fire, but the power of your imagination. by the gift of your passion. by the devotion of your heart and your skills. to make your life richer and to lift others. orton means that you can set the world on fire -- or it means
that you can set the world on fire. [laughter] you have to decide. because the world is interdependent, you cannot take a pass. i think the future begins by accepting the wonderful instruction of our very first jesuit pope. pope francis has fostered a culture of encounter. where my condition works in africa and the hills of central africa, nobody has any wheel transportation so everyone meets on foot and when people pass each other on paths, and one says good morning, hello, how are you? the response in english is, i see you. i encounter you. you are real to me. think about all the people today
yesterday, and tomorrow you will , pass and not see. do you really see anybody who works in a restaurant where you go after to have a celebratory meal? do we see the people that we pass on the street who may have a smile or a frown or a bird in the can barely carry alone? when we passionately advocate for the causes that we believe in, have we anticipated all of the unanticipated consequences so we can take everybody a long for a ride into the future that we imagine. when pope francis tells us to engage in a culture of encounter , he is thinking about the lm you students in this class who -- the lmu students in this class who since they were freshmen have performed over 200,000 hours of community service. [applause] that is a fancy way of saying,
you saw a need and you stepped in to solve it. you did it not only because it was the morally right thing for other people, but because it made your life more meaningful. that is the way you want to set the world on fire. the young people mentioned in my introduction who have been part of our global initiative community for university students made very specific commitments. they promised to mentor high school girls. to help them overcome any preconceived notion of their own limitations. they promised to help the victims of domestic violence. and violence against the homeless. they promised to provide more capital to small business people in haiti through microcredit loans.
something that means a lot to hillary and me personally, because for over 40 years since we took a honeymoon trip there, we have cared about them and believe in the. they promised educational exchange with the national university of rwanda. we can learn a lot from them because they lost 10% of their people in 90 days to a genocide in 1994 and they came back because they refused to be paralyzed by the past. they joined hands across the line that led to all that bloodshed to create a common future. that's at the heart of your restorative justice program here.
instead of figuring out who to punish, figure out how to repair the harm. instead of focusing on getting even for the past, focus on how we can share the future. if it is at the heart of your efforts here to improve the juvenile justice system. you, without knowing it, have often embodied the future of positive interdependence that we hope to build. you cannot have shared prosperity in an inclusive community unless we believe our common humanity is even more important than our incredibly interesting differences. so i will say this again. on every continent, think of the struggles in latin america, the political and social and economic struggles in america. think of what is going on in asia and africa, think of how europe is dealing with this influx in the middle east with the largest number of refugees since world war ii.
in all these conflicts in these countries and whether they should keep europe together, everyone is part of an ongoing battle to define the terms of our interdependence. whether we do it in positive or negative terms. are going to expand the definition of us and shrink the definition of them, or should we hunker down in the face of uncomfortable realities and just stick with our own crowd? it will be a bleaker future if you do that. since it the world on fire with your imagination, not with your matches. [laughter] [applause] set the world on fire by proving that what we have in common is one million times more important than our utterly fascinating
differences. finally, i just want to say that all that this is, this great struggle that will go on for several years now, to define our relationships in an interdependent world is for you, the background of a life, a real life. the life or you will live your own story, have your own dreams, and suffer your own disappointments. it is an empowering gift you have. for most of human history, adults had no choice about what they did with their waking hours. they got up and did with their forebears had done to survive, to feed to propagate the species, to have children, to raise them to go on in a less written iced way -- routinized way. if they would put two sticks, two stones together to be warm at night and cook food. but you can set the world on fire because of the empowerment of your education and the
empowerment of your circumstances. so here's my last shot. there are no final victories or defeats in this life. you will make mistakes and you will fail. and if you keep trying you will be glad you did. the only thing that matters is how quick you get up and how resolutely you go on. it is not given to us to win every battle but to fight the right fight. mother teresa once said it was far more important that she and her fellow nuns be faithful than
they always be successful. i can tell you after 48 years, it doesn't take long to live a life. but the journey can be utterly glorious. and i would give anything to be your age again just to see what's going to happen. i do believe that this will be the most prosperous, discovery- ridden, exhilarating era in human history, if we decide how best to set the world on fire. if we keep expanding the definition of us and shrinking the definition of them. if every day we all get a little better in seeing every one we encounter physically or virtually. if we remember that a very short life the things we share that are even more than the things about us that are special. so do well. do good.