Home Around Town Words of wisdom from Bono, Lewis Black and more
Words of wisdom from Bono, Lewis Black and more

Words of wisdom from Bono, Lewis Black and more

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By Mike Wilcox

Publisher

Commencement exercises for young men and women across the nation begin this week. It is a time for those earning their degrees from a college to graduate to adulthood and all the responsibilities associated with family and employment. For those graduating from high school, it is time to move forward on the next phase of life.

I’ve never had the opportunity to speak to a graduating class, but if it were to occur I would pull my words of wisdom from past commencement speeches from some pretty impressive individuals. For instance:

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, told a commencement class:

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.”

Conan O’Brien, late night TV host and a Harvard University graduate, told a graduating class:

“Success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way. I wish for all of you the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over.”

Bono, lead singer for U2, who has delivered several commencement speeches, told a University of Pennsylvania class:

“I saw something in the paper last week about Kermit the Frog giving a commencement address. One of the students was complaining, ‘I worked my ass off for four years to be addressed by a sock?’ You have worked your ass off for this. For four years you’ve been buying, trading and selling, everything you’ve got in this marketplace of ideas. The intellectual hustle. Your pockets are full, even if your parents’ are empty, and now you’ve got to figure out what to spend it on.”

Former President Barack Obama told graduating seniors at Barnard College:

“Every day you receive a steady stream of sensationalism and scandal and stories with a message that change isn’t possible; that you can’t make a difference; that you won’t be able to close that gap between life as it is and life as you want it to be … My job today is to tell you don’t believe it. Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher.”

Actor Bradley Whitford had these words of wisdom:

“Take action. Every story you’ve ever connected with, every leader you’ve ever admired, every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair. You will make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.”

Leave it to caustic comedian Lewis Black to bring humor to his commencement address:

“I apologize for the Social Security checks you probably won’t get. Our parents passed it on to our generation, but no one ever said to us that we were supposed to pass it on to the next generation. So we spent it.”

Then he added:

“You are now entering a world that’s filled to the brim with idiots. Since there are so many idiots out there, you actually may start to think you’re crazy. You are not. They are idiots. Whatever you do, don’t tell them that they are an idiot. There may come a day when you need that idiot. Idiots may be idiots, but they do have a memory.”

I’m not sure I would include that in my speech. I think a more appropriate summation would be Congratulations to the Classes of 2017! May all your dreams come true.