Standing Strong Amid Protests and Politics: A Graduation Season Reflection

Commencement Season Amid Protests

The commencement season is upon us, with a few ceremonies being canceled due to continued protests. If one were to give a graduation address during such troubled times, the focus should be on celebrating the achievements of the graduates, despite the surrounding turmoil.

Finding Your Inner Life

Graduates should be encouraged to cultivate an inner life, resisting the pull of social media. Committing to memory great poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and reading for pleasure instead of purpose, are ways to enrich the mind. Also, it’s important to preserve an independence of mind and spirit, nurturing contrarian opinions, especially those that go against your own political side.

Student Protests and Free Speech

While it’s not advisable to dismiss the value of student protests entirely, caution should be exercised so as not to ruin the special moments for fellow students and their families. Reflecting on past experiences with student protests, it’s interesting to note how the focus of such protests has evolved over time. For instance, fighting for free speech and the right for a gay poet to speak at a Catholic college was a cause worth fighting for in a different era.

Dealing with Antisemitism

Addressing antisemitism is a daunting task, with a thin line between combating hate speech and preserving free speech. While laws against hate speech might seem to be the solution, the responsibility of defeating antisemitism lies not just with the government but also with civil society. Understanding and educating people about antisemitism and calling it out when it occurs is the first step towards eradicating it.

Economic Fairness and Taxation

A call for reducing the budget deficit by extending tax cuts for middle- and lower-income families and raising taxes on the wealthy and most profitable companies has drawn both criticism and praise. While some argue that tax increases on companies result in higher prices for consumers and less hiring, others believe that the government, with the right priorities, can fight to ensure these tax shields are countered, pushing us in the right direction for economic fairness.

Abortion Rights and Election Outcomes

Abortion rights have become a significant factor in election outcomes, and if Biden wins the upcoming Presidential election, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and the restrictions many conservative states have imposed on abortion rights will likely have played a significant role.

Remembering Mary Wells Lawrence

In the end, it’s worth remembering people like Mary Wells Lawrence, the advertising genius who defied societal norms to make her mark. Her story serves as a reminder that with the right kind of chutzpah, we can overcome any obstacle and make a lasting impact.