On this momentous occasion we hope you take a minute to reflect on what you’ve learned and what you’re expected to carry with you as you leave these years behind. Think about the virtues – oh the virtues! – sometimes obvious because preached from a pulpit, but more often hidden between the words of what you were told to read, or in the smug, knowing glances of your peers. Think about the commitment to justice your schooling has provided, or the pride you’ll feel when you stand khakis-to-blouse with your fellow alumni to “make the world a better place” for failures and weaklings. Think about the wisdom that only seems to avail itself to the degraded and decaying. Think about getting to hide behind these virtues – hell, think about using them just as they were intended: as a shield against struggle, suffering, and strength. Think about a world hewn of hierarchy, danger, and privilege. Thanks to your education, that world is yours for the taking.
Can you imagine if this was all there is? Can you imagine if this shameful vision was enough for you? Forget those for whom it is enough. Forget the milieu and the form of life that expected you to be contented by such an ignoble existence. This day we share with you and your family is given no great value by the achievement that has brought us together but is instead animated by the promise written in your future, and in the life you are creating far from the institution from which time and passivity has granted your release.
For your future holds experiences – places and situations – in which sham virtues carry an extortionate cost; for you get to live as the tightrope walker, each step a matter of standing or falling. You get to live with bonds forged of blood and steel and bathed in pure love. Some men would kill for the honor.
For you, my brother, the puerile, corrosive, decadent life of cowardly virtues written only in ink, will never be enough. And for that, we congratulate you.