Tis the season for college commencement addresses. Bright mornings give to warm spring afternoons where graduates in their black gowns gather on green quads to reflect on the past and ponder about the future. While handing out honorary degrees, many colleges and universities welcome to the rostrum a well-known speaker to part wisdom on the future torchbearers of society. Some special guests will speak about their life experiences while others read rhymes from the great commencement theologian Dr. Seuss. In the era of 24/7 news cycles, bombardment amounts of information, comfort pets, and safe spaces, one would hope that a keynote speaker's communication would help refine and mature its listeners.
Last weekend, during its celebratory event, the University of Massachusetts Amherst actually had one such speaker. With the Class of 2018 gathered, CNN host Jake Tapper delivered points of wisdom that not only benefited graduates in attendance but could also be advantageousness to our greater population.
The host of "State of the Union" and "the Lead" encouraged the audience that they, "should avoid only listening to the politicians or the news media, and in some cases, the members of their family or their friends with whom they agree. Resist the temptation to subject yourself only to that which reaffirms what you already think."
Tapper went on urging the graduates to be critical thinkers.
"People decide about an article's validity based only on its headline or the language in the tweet linking to it. They judge books by their covers. I urge you to read the story. I urge you to think for yourself. I urge you to click the link."
Finally, Tapper spoke at length about the importance of civility and decency when many are turning to hatred and a disrespect for others.
"Nastiness and mockery and meanness sometimes seem as if they're spreading like a contagion. I realize that the nation right now is not exactly getting a crash course in exemplary behavior," he said. "We are in a time now where we cannot look to Washington to exemplify the standards of behavior we want to teach our children. Be nice to each other. Embrace the humanity of everyone, especially those you don't understand. You know what takes effort? Being kind. Being patient. Being respectful."
If just one graduate in attendance applied what Tapper spoke about, our society would actually be better off. How different would our our nation be if we all started treating others better? Imagine what progess could be made if those on the right and left stepped outside comfort zones and interacted more with those whom they disagreed with.
Tapper did not specifically describe the Fruits of the Spirit directory, (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) however many of his words shared the same characteristics.
If indeed we all like the graduates are "off to great places,” may we remember the words of Jake Tapper as we "get on our way!”