In his address to the Ithaca College class of 2007 this morning, humanitarian and former executive director of Amnesty International USA William Schulz used the words of Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, to stress the importance of humility, humanity, spirituality and moral responsibility as key factors in a fulfilling life.
“To bring spirituality, moral responsibility, humaneness and humility into politics and in that respect to make clear…that our deeds do not disappear into the dark hole of time,” Schulz said, quoting Havel.
Schulz explained each of these four themes and reminded the audience of nearly 10,000 how they can play into everyday life.
�If your education has been successful, you�ve learned a second language in a metaphorical sense,� Schulz said. �You�ve learned the world is a complex place, that the United States is one among many nations in the world and that the best way to live in the world is with openness and generosity of the heart.�
Telling an anecdote of an old man who said the secret is that life is both �like and not like a river,� Schulz said it is important to remember everyone is united by a common thread.
�Everybody�s blood flows red,� Schulz said. �The way to save the world is through recognition of the frailty we share.�
He encouraged the graduating class to spend time in the world helping and remembering others, even if it is not an easy task.
�A wise person is a person that approaches the world with humility,� Schulz said.
The 112th class to graduate from the college seemed ready to follow Schulz�s advice, President Peggy R. Williams said in her address, with 14 graduates planning to enter the Teach for America program.
�Today you [graduates] have a great sense of optimism about what lies ahead of you,� Williams said.
Williams also presented the graduates with medallions � a tradition since the college�s centennial in 1992 � inscribed with the Chinese proverb �the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.�
Before entering a new phase in their lives, senior class president Alex Moore reflected on his classmates� experience during the last four years. He kept his 10-minute speech light, incorporating jokes about life on South Hill and Ithaca�s four seasons: �winter, still winter, winter like spring and construction.� But he also touched on the drive of the class.
�We are not a group that will be satisfied with entry level jobs,� Moore said.
As a testimony to their drive, the class of 2007 presented the largest class gift in the college�s history, a total of $57,648, the majority of which will fund a garden at the entrance to the new Athletics and Events Center.
In the ceremony�s closing remarks, Williams sent the graduates on their way with a lifelong thirst for knowledge and faith that the class of 2007 will successfully join the college�s 50,000 alumni.
�[We let you go] with every confidence that each of your journeys will be successful and exciting,� she said.