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tv   Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Commencement Address at Christendom...  CSPAN  May 30, 2018 1:21pm-1:49pm EDT

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we need you and you are ready, more ready than you probably realize. what is next may seem scary to you, but that is perfectly fine. in fact, you should be a little scared. i have a daughter who says if you're not scared it's not worth it. so have kerch. find your passion. find your tribe. keep your your motive and take care of yourself. lead with love. change the world. thank you. [cheers and applause] [cheers and applause]
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>> supreme court justice clarence thomas spoke about his catholic upbringing when he delivered the commencement address in virginia. this is 25 minutes. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. thank you. that makes you want to quit while you're ahead. you've already given me a medal in this warm welcome. thank you all for being here.
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i would like to first thank a no-win for the outstanding welcome. we introverts might have to stick together. iowa state introverts of the world unite, but i'm not going to the meeting. [laughter] that would mean i have to leave home. me think president o'donnell for his wonderful welcome and for his patience in inviting me here. i would also like to thank chairman bethel for her kindness and warmth. and the members of the board, members of the faculty, all of you for being here, the honored
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guest. i'd like to thank father scalia who is a dear, dear friend of mine. but most of all, it is an honor to be with the students. what a wonderful group. i looked around and i saw the statues, the icons, and pictures of the blessed virgin mary in st. joseph and i realized i was in a catholic school. and it to put jm jay at the top of my speech. [applause] again, it is truly an honor to be invited to be a part of these commencement ceremonies. i was deeply humbled to receive the pot trio award.
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but i think saint tinker as we celebrate today announced fallen soldiers across the world, i cannot claim the merits of this wonderful award. they get the last full measure for god and for country. my contributions pale next to their ultimate sacrifice. nevertheless, i am deeply, deeply honored and i will treasure and i love being here with my bride, virginia, who ha. [applause] i find commencement uplifting and it times celebrate a milestone in so many young lives. to paraphrase sir winston churchill, and it is not the end or the beginning of the end.
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it is the end of the beginning of your education and your young lives. lives hopefully spent in the pursuit of truth and wisdom. this past week, i asked my former law clerks, who spoke at their respective college graduation. they each have some vague recollections of the speaker, but could not recall what was said. so, i am under illusions said. i am under no illusions whatsoever that i hear what i say here will be long remembered. but on their unanimous advice, i will be brief. and i ask you to indulge me for just a few minutes.
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in 1971, when i stop where you are, i was approaching my 23rd birthday and preliminarily, let me apologize for using i too many times. and i was in the process of accumulating as you said many, many regret, such as failing to return home to visit my grandparents often enough. too often been influenced by my contemporaries to thank in the s of anna, the people who made it
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possible for you this far. your parents, guardians, teachers, priests, nuns, coaches, you know who they are. thank all of those who make it possible for us to live in peace in this country. thank god that you live in this country and for his boundless love and grace that elevates us about our choices and our circumstances and ourselves. you know, at graduation ceremonies, many people will tell you to go out and conquer the world, climb mountains and do great things. the truth is, we are fortunate if we can conquer ourselves. i saw a say in some years ago that makes so much sense. if you want to know what is down the road, ask the person who is coming back. on the road of life, the person next to you now as a fellow
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traveler. those of us with gray hair and wrinkles are coming back. in a sense, we are meeting you on a path of life that we long ago traveled. some of us would like to say. i was one of those headstrong youths. i wish you were -- i am sure none of you is headstrong. like most young people i have had bad judgment from time to time. there is a story of a young man, who like me have bad judgment. he went to visit a wise older man who lived nearby. the older man is known to have outstandingly good judgment. the young man told him he too
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wanted to serve the large man's advice. the wise man said, son, good judgment comes from experience and comes from having on bad judgments. even as i have had bad judgment, the bad judgment of youth, something kept me from going too far and helped me learn from those experiences. i spent 25 years of my life in the wilderness away from the church. and yet, the sunday call a church bells never went away. something restrained me. in those days of the 1960s and 70s, the inner restraint was called a hangout for an
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intervention. it was a catholic conscience that have been formed much like this wonderful, wonderful college. this is a decidedly catholic college and i am decidedly an unapologetically catholic. [applause] it is this faith that has been a guiding beacon during some difficult and seemingly hopeless hours. even when i turned my heart against it and turned my back on it. and i have no doubt that this faith will do the same for each
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of you if you let it. and perhaps even if you don't. it is not a tether, but rather it is a way for the truth and the life. my first encounter with a catholic institution was in september of 1955 when i entered second grade at saint benedict school and my hometown of savanna, georgia. in those days we lined up in the schoolyard by grade and after reciting the pledge of allegiance in unison, we filed it -- we filed into our respective classrooms, two by two. the first subject was always religion, using the baltimore catechism. i can still a member sister mary sister mary taylor rosa ask enough of a class, why did god
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create you in unison and the innocent voices at seven euros olds responded, god created us to know, love and serve it in this life and to be happy with him in the next. a lifetime has passed since those days of innocence and hopefulness. as they near my seven year birthday, i think often of a sister mary taylor rosa tatarstan september. much has happened since those days. i haven't read much, learned much and experienced a lifetime of ups and downs. i have studied theology,osophy,. yet, i had not come across a better statement of our purpose in life than what she taught us over six decades ago. this could well be the result of
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the many flaws and efficiencies in my ability and my life. from time to time, he amassed why came back to the church after a quarter of a century away. often as a cynical if not bitter soul. i usually respond that life happens and then i ran away as the next seminarian as a middle-aged man, humbled by the realities of life and better able to cross fade. it reminds me of my encounters with my grandfather. he was a devout catholic, a convert and only had nine months of education. he and my grandmother raised my brother and me. i had been an altar boy and thought i had a vocation. hence my four years in the
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seminary. but much was happening in the world involve a matter of race relation. i somehow got swept up in it in a way that's when i called trim. and zero so certain that i was right about the end of the world as we knew it, about the impending revolution, seemingly i was certain about everything. you know, it is funny now just how certain we think we are about so much when we have two decade of life under our belts. at the end of our confrontations that have to be exasperating to my wonderful grandfather, who would often simply say before walking away, you just live long enough. you'll see. i wish you were here now so i could confess to him dead at 70
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i now see what i did not see a 20 as he knew i would end as you all well. in a sense, i'm coming back to you as my grandfather and sister mary taylor rosa came to me, not to lecture you are exalts myself, but rather as a pilgrim who wants nothing more than your pilgrimage to be more fruitful and more beneficial and more christ centered than mine was. my bride and i attended a conference last week. among the topics for brain mapping and artificial intelligence. i could've used some of that. each day one reads about some other science fictional and after. image integration we have gone from virtually no one but the
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cell phone to today, virtually no one without a cell phone. the world that you all will live in most certainly will have challenges that are unimaginable to those of us who grew up during a different era. that is perhaps much like what my grandparents for sister mary taylor rosa will think of today's work. unimaginable. in an increasingly secular and nihilistic world, you will be faced with man made panaceas. i think each generation pinballs between its own panacea. i think for us we have had quotas to solve racial problems. housing projects to solve urban projects. psychedelic drugs for minds
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expanded. we are from global cooling to global warming to climate change. i doubt your lies would be less cluttered with changes, conflicts and man-made solutions. nor do i doubt that it will be fraught with judith phair a complications. neither i nor anyone in this room knows exactly what will confront you are exactly what the world will look like for you all. but those who raised and nurtured us did. for those who raise and nurture rest did not and could not know that we would live in the world to visit him today. the world of self driving cars, robot and drowns. it was for them and for us a world of santos v. and cartoon
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like the jetsons. a few months ago, my wife and i were talking with one of her favorite priest, father scalia. one of the things that has mystified me during my tenure on the court, which now approaches 30 years was the fact that his father, justice scalia and i were very, very different backgrounds. are we agreed on so much and trust each other implicitly. we saw so much the same way. before he arrived at the court in 1991, i'd never bad, so we had no prior relationship. he was from new jersey in the new york area and i from south georgia. he was from the household of educated parents and mine was almost functionally illiterate. we did not share the same race. i told justice scalia about
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this, father scalia about this and he provided what should've been obvious all along. your catholic formation was your bond he said. our mutual formation of moral character. since that day, i thought often about his observations. those who nurtured us did not know what we would confront, but they knew that we needed to learn the truth to deal with what wethey psed on among other things by catholic faith. it seems that in this increasingly speculative world, man sees himself as the master of the universe. there seems to be this notion that we put our resources -- that if we put our resources and our minds to it, we can do just about anything and solve just about any problem.
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with more research, the most challenging and awful diseases can be understood and cured. didn't we after all cure polio, tuberculosis, which were terrifying during my youth. man is powerful enough to destroy the earth, who needs god, who cares about the church. a life without god, without faith, i've tasted the elixir of that life. i stared into database. some time ago, one of her parish priest gave the most interesting homily that made the point better than i could ever hope to. he told a story that may well be apocryphal. i am not sure, but it still makes the point. many of you may have already heard, a young student in france
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took a seat across from an elderly gentleman who appeared to be dozing when the train lurched, rosary fell for the gentleman's hand. they handed it back to the gentleman. he couldn't resist asking the gentleman if he still believes in such things as praying the rosary. the gentleman admitted that indeed he still believed, surprised the young student told the gentleman that his professors at the university did not believe in such superstitions. he then went on to enlighten the elderly gentleman of the more modern and sophisticated view of the world and explained that enlighten people did not believe in such nonsense as praying the rosary. if the older gentleman prepared to leave the train, the young man offered to spend his
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materials to further enlighten him. the older man kindly accepted the offer and gave the young man his business card as he departed. as the train pulled away, the young man read the card aloud to himself. louis pasteur, director of the institute of scientific research . [applause] perhaps louis pasteur, who was breaking work in his life experienced knew something big young man had yet to learn. it seems that offering the more we know and the more we learn, the more we doubt how much we really know or how well we know. we realize that our human
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limitations are. in a sense, we realize just how miniscule we are in the scheme of things, especially without god. in the apple log of his history of christianity, paul johnson observes, and i quote, man is imperfect with god. without god, what is he? s. francis bacon put it, they deny god, destroy man's ability. for certainly man is of kin by his body and it is not kin to god by his spirit, is a noble creature. by virtue of divine example and by the desire for the warmth of apotheosis, which christianity offers. in everyday terms, because we are creating the image and likeness of god, we are required
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to demand more by ourselves than our base instincts, to know, love and serve god requires that we obey his commandments in the laws of the church. this world will tug at you and attempt to divert you. somehow you must stay the course. god will provide a way to give you the strength and grace to endure and overcome your failures. i assure you that there are things today that you think are important, that are critical, that are indispensable. many of these same things he will one day think are trivial. there will be those who will confidently tell you that there is a new, more modern and fun filled thrilling way to live life without the constraints of conscience and faith. they will suggest that the old-fashioned ways are passé and
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that the era of smartphones, ipad and i cause. they will say that we are smarter with the internet and artificial intelligence. that these technological conveniences are not defined and not common. when i met my wife in 1986, she asked me, what would help sustain me through the many, many battles that i fought in washington. i showed her my folded copy of st. francis of assisi's letter to rulers of the people. they read in part, and they give you this advice. keep a clear eye. do not forget your purpose and destiny as god's creatures. what you are in god's sight is what you are nothing more. remember that when you leave this earth, you will take with
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you nothing that you have received, but only what you have given. a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. embrace the god of us all in god's word wherever it surfaces. in the early 1990s, shortly after i arrived, i frequently drove past a small cinderblock church in northern virginia. it had a simple sign, inexpensive sign out front with a quote from second corinthians where we walk by faith, not by sight. simple yet profound. google maps may get you from one place to another, but only god will show you the way to the peace which passes understanding. to paraphrase another to reset
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in the final analysis, it is not between you and the world. it is always between you and god. i congratulate each of you on this milestone in your formation, your catholic formation. may god continue to bless and guide each of you throughout your lives. and i pray that you know love and serve him in thi lif that you can be happy wh him in the next. god bless you. [cheers and applause] [applause]
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[applause] >> starbucks chief operating officer rosalind gates brewer delivered the commencement address at her alma mater, salmon -- spelman college in atlanta, georgia. she spoke about the decision to have employees undergo bias trading following the arrest of two black men at a philadelphia starbucks location. this is just over 20 minutes. [applause] >> thank you. it is such a joy to be

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