As nearly 1 million graduates poured forth from American colleges and universities this spring, they listened to the words of leaders in many fields -- among them politicians, scientists, educators, journalists, and business people.
Excerpts from selected commencement addresses in yesterday's Monitor looked at the personal advice offered graduates. Todays' paper focuses on the larger issues of national and international concern graduates were urged to consider.m Flora Lewis Nationally syndicated columnist Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.m
America must not give the Europeans the mistaken impression that economically and militarily it wants to put the squeez on the Soviet Union and other communist states. The Europeans know this is not possible. They know the capacity of the Russian people to suffer. And they know the uncommon readiness of communist dictatorships to call on their people's capacity to suffer. So Western Europe wants balance and Europe wants peace through balance, Europe wants economic health and social peace. No matter whether their political leaders are conservative, liberal, or social democrat. Those are the things Americans really want, too, I am convinced.
The question of missiles and morality is an issue that shows how hard it is to find a balance between our own immediate interests, those of other nations, and those of all humanity. So long as we don't all agree, and by all I mean everbody in the world, not just in the United States, that the use of force, that war itself, is immoral, a refusal to defend ourselves is also a refusal to defen our moral values. The difficult point is to establish what is true defense that does not threaten others, and what is an arrogant demand for superior security which makes others feel insecure. I'm glad this debate is going on. I think it's very useful. But I hope it will bring us to understand these awesome issues better and will bring us to be more prudent and flexible at once. If it is take as one or more attempt to find a simple perfect answer to the dilemma of the human condition, it is bound to lead to more and perhaps tragic mistakes. A. Bartlett Giamatti President of Yale University Yale Universitym
Insofar as the institutions of the family and of the college have been losing their sense of shared values, I lament the changes. Insofar as the institution of the college, however, has become more accessible and inclusive, I applaud the change.
For all the gains in public awareness of social needs in the last 35 years, there has been a private loss, the loss of certitude about the ability of certain crucial institutions upon which we all depend to sustain us. You come at the end of a period of expansion of resources and of processes for justice and of fragmentation of faith in older certitudes. With the rest of us, you will be part of the necessary effort to recreate stable institutions and reconfigured social and personal partnerships. I believe, for example, the American family will have to assume, again, the primary responsibility for promoting the education of the young (the unmistakable message, in the recent critiques of our public schools). I also believe the American college will have to recall that it has some responsibility for forms of nurture and for affirming common moral values as well as for fostering intellectual prowess. These two institutions, so basic to our best hopes and our deepest pleasures, must be among others the beneficiaries of a regeneration and redefinition of obligations. Paul Adolph Volcker Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.m
Sometimes the objection is made that the whole thing is undemocratic -- that the policy decisions of the Federal Reserve are not made by elected officials. But it is elected officials who have created and maintained the structure and choose the members of the Board of Governors. And, of course, in a larger sense we are not, indeed, we should not and could not be, independent of the "body politic." We are a part of government in a larger sense, and no monetary policy could be sustained for long without broad understanding and support of the people whose lives, in the end, are affected.
What does seem to me to have served us well over the years, and to be as relevant today as when the Federal Reserve was founded, is that monetary policy be formulated and conducted with a degree of insulation from partisan and passing political pressures, with professionalism, and with emphasis on the long-run national interest. Jacob K. Javits Former US senator from New York University of California, Berkeleym
I speak of the ethical responsibilities: the conflicts of interest, the dangers of corruption with so many temptations held out to a public official, and the susceptibility to condemnation in the public press even before judicial action. Yet this, too, is a safeguard of our system, and, on the part of the public official, a greater degree of candor and revelation is required of him than from others. For decades, doctors and lawyers have been guided by codes of ethics, and these should be treasured and favored by politicians as prescribing the parameters of their own conduct, rather than to be resented or repelled. L.A. Iacocca Chairman, Chrysler Corporation University of Michigan, Ann Arborm
A little common sense might help convince our government that our runaway budget deficits are pure madness. Washington is soaking up more than half of the nation's available credit. That's why consumer interest rates aren't coming down . . . and that's why we're recovering so slowly from the recession. If you spend your house budget or you business that way -- or the University of Michigan. How long would you last?
A little common sense might show us the wisdom of breaking down the adversarial relationships between industry and government -- and between management and labor -- in the United States . . .
A little common sense might help us find ways to level out the boom-and-bust cycles that are so destructive to a complex society like ours . . .
Class of '83 -- start your engines! Ronald Reagan President of the United States Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.m
Perhaps the biggest irony about the problems facing American education today is the fact that we already know what makes for good schools, leadership from principals and superintendents, dedication from well-trained teachers, discipline, homework, testing, and efficient use of time. All of these things can be improved without increasing federal funding and interference. And with only modest increases in local and state support.
One of the best ways to do this, and unfortunately it's opposed by some of the heaviest hitters in the national education lobby, is by rewarding excellence. Teachers should be paid and promoted on the basis of their merit and competence. Hard-earned tax dollars should encourage the best. They have no business rewarding incompetence and mediocrity.
And we can also encourage excellence by encouraging parental choice. And that's exactly what we're trying to do through our programs of tuition tax credits and vouchers -- allowing individual parents to choose the kinds of schools they know will be best for their children's needs. America rose to greatness through the free and vigorous competition of ideas. We can make American education great again by applying these same principles of intellectual freedom and innovation, for individual families, through the vouchers I mentioned, and tuiton tax credits. And for individual public school systems, through block grants that come without the red tape of government regulations from Washington attached. Edward P.G. Seaga Prime minister of Jamaica Boston Universitym
A new world of infinitely greater complexity has evolved than the one into which this graduating class was born.
Let us recall some of the most important of these changes.
Since the 1950s 83 new nations have emerged on the world scene -- among them my own country -- Jamaica, which is 21 years old this year.
These countries represent 542 million people -- 12 percent of the world's population. The postcolonial world is one, therefore, that has obvious geopolitical realities. It is fertile ground for competing ideologies, and indeed the growing confrontation of ideologies in this hemisphere is a part of the postcolonial dialectic which we are now witnessing . . .
It will be today's graduates who will have to devise and carry out the policies of adjustment -- adjustment without containing growth -- which will be specific challenge to America in the forthcoming years; to close the dangerous gaps in economic opportunity, human welfare, and education between the developed and developing world. Joseph R. Grodin Associate justice of the California Supreme Court University of California at Berkeleym
No one, with the exception of criminals, approves of crime; no one except extremists wants to do away with due process and other constitutional protections; no one seriously believes that our present system of crime deterrence, law enforcement, adjudication, and sanctions is the best that the human mind can devise. The problems are complex, and solutions are difficult, but advances are more likely to be made, are they not -- I give a little clue on this question -- if we abandon the simplistic notion that the world is divided into those who love criminals and those who love law and order, and instead focus our resources upon improving our collective understanding? Carlos Fuentes Mexican writer and diplomat Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.m
. . . the difference between Soviet actions in their "sphere of influence" and United States actions in theirs is that the Soviet regime is a tyranny and you are a democracy.
Yet more and more, over the past years, I have heard North Americans in responsible positions speak of not caring whether the United States is loved, but whether it is feared; not whether it is admired for its cultural and political accomplishments, but respected for its material power; not whether the rights of others are respected, but its own strategic interests are defended.
These are inclinations that we have come to associate with the brutal diplomacy of the Soviet Union.
But we, the true friends of your great nation in Latin America, we the admirers of your extraordinary achievements in literature, science, and the arts and of your democratic institutions, of your Congress and your courts, your universities, and publishing houses and your free press -- we your true friends, because we are your friends, will not permit you to conduct yourselves in Latin American affairs as the Soviet Union conducts itself in Central European and Central Asian affairs. George P. Shultz Secretary of state Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.m
Most alliances in history have not lasted. The fact that the democracies have been held together by ties of political economic and security cooperation for more than three decades, through many profound changes in international conditions, is proof, I believe, that our unity of shared values and common purpose is something special. At the same time, the grim lession of history should warn us that even this great coalition will not survive without conscious effort and political commitment. Those statesmen who were "present at the creation," in the immediate postwar period, showed enormous vision and courage. In a new era in history, it is up to all of us to summon the same vision and courage to assure that it survives and flourishes.
. . . We must both defend freedom and preserve peace. We must seek to advance those moral values to which this nation and its allies are deeply committed. And we must do so in a nuclear age in which a global war would thoroughly destroy those values . . .
At the same time, experience teaches that a balance of power, though necessary, is not sufficient. Our strength is a means to an end; it is the secure foundation for our effort to build a safer, more peaceful, and more hopeful world.