Not even Middlebury’s runs-like-butter admin could stop a steady downpour just minutes before graduation began. But by the time the ceremony really got going, the weather improved enough so people put down their umbrellas and let down their poncho hoods in time to listen to Bill Clinton speak.
I was quite prepared for a particularly drab speech from the former president but it was quite the opposite. Clinton gave a simple and focused speech that was moving. Something about how he writes his own speeches and how he delivers the speech’s in a conversational manner really made his speech convincing. He spoke on the idea of “community,” which resonated well with me because community is what made me choose Middlebury in the first place. Clinton also touched on the idea of difference — and how 99.9% of humans are genetically the same. He tied that statistic into the need for a world community that focuses not on difference but on how similar we all are. Clinton called for graduates to build community and focus on “seeing” others. Other nuggets:
- successful communities have: 1) broadly shared opportunities to participate, 2) broadly felt responsibilities for the success of the enterprise, and 3) a genuine sense of belonging
- “Ubuntu” — I am because you are (we cannot exist without each other)
- intelligence and effort are equally distributed throughout the world
- organization, investment, and opportunity are not equally distributed throughout the world
- common humanity is more important than our differences
- save the world while remembering all the people in it