Commencement Address to the Class of 2023

First, congratulations for this once in a lifetime accomplishment!  There are few moments that are truly “once in a lifetime.”  High school graduation is one!  I am so happy for you, your parents, your family, and those others close to you.  Really soak in the moment!  In our culture, you are now an adult.  And yes, let’s get this cliche out of the way:  YOU ARE THE FUTURE!  YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY SO MANY PRIOR TO YOU HAVE HAD with a twist  – You have the chance to keep America – America!  To keep America – America – it begins with YOU!  

I have been given five-seven minutes to add value to your life.  Just so you know … it took me more than seven minutes to write this speech for you!  

What one piece of advice can I give you today that will add value to your life.  I got it!  Are you ready?  

  • “Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you.”  – Isocrates  
  • “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29  Ancient Persia 
  •  “Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you.”  Ancient Rome 
  • “One who is going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”  Yoruba Proverb 
  • “Whoever says the other shall not perch, may they show the other where to perch.”  Igbo Proverb
  • “Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not at all good. If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone’s heart.” – Guru Arjan Dev Ji 259, Guru Granth Sahib

And the final three:  

  • That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation.  – Talmud, Shabbat
  • None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.  40 Hadith 13
  • In everything, do to others as you would have them do unto you; for this is the law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12 

What do we call all of these?  YES!  THE GOLDEN RULE!!  

One of my favorite authors / men is Dr. John Maxwell.  To paraphrase one of his many thoughts, there is no such thing as business ethics … just the Golden Rule.  

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you sincerely followed the Golden Rule?  Can you imagine what your life would be like if we all sincerely followed the Golden Rule?  

Look!  The Golden Rule is a HUMAN WORLD RULE!!  It crosses all lines.  Like music, it truly connects all human beings.  

So, like adults should, I challenge you.  I challenge you to make every decision based on this one principle.  Did you look at that person the way you want that person to look at you?  Did you talk to that person the way you want that person to talk to you?  Did you show respect to that person’s faith – even if you don’t practice their faith or any faith – like you want the person to respect your choice of faith?  

We could go on.  Couldn’t we?  

Back to Dr. Maxwell.  He has a platinum rule:  TREAT OTHERS BETTER THAN HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.  Your life will be as difficult as any other person.  I can almost guarantee your life will be less difficult living your life with the Golden or the Platinum Rule.  

Final thought… make following this rule a priority – not perfection.  Forgive yourself for being imperfect.  Treat yourself with the Golden or Platinum Rule.  You are going to have days where there will be moments less than Golden or Platinum.  When those days happen, learn from them.  You and I need valleys to appreciate the mountains.  Like plants / crops, we need fertilizer to make us stronger.  Always go back to the Golden or Platinum Rules.  Because you have helped others enjoy their difficult lives, you will enjoy your difficult life.  

Best wishes to you the Class of 2023, and again, make the Golden Rule a priority, not perfection.  I love ya and yes, God Bless.