1998 Baccalaureate Messages

of President Rodin and Andrea Mitchell

Sing a New Song by Judith Rodin

Good afternoon.

Members of the Class of 1998, we are together again, just as we were four years ago. Four years ago when we were freshmen together.

You were my first freshman class in my first year as president of this great University. Since our Convocation on a September day in 1994, we have grown together.

We have opened our minds and our hearts, and delighted in what we have let in. Inquiry and knowledge. Discovery and wonder. We have also had to let go. Let go of old orthodoxies. Let go of narrow thinking. Even, at times, let go of someone we love--a friend, a parent, a classmate. We have drawn lessons from the letting go and the letting in.

Today, the last before you graduate, let us take a moment to take "a backward glance," in the words of the great Walt Whitman. When I take that "backward glance," I see four years of young women and men full of possibility and promise. You have grown from freshmen just finding your way, to graduates who are making your way-- a way for yourselves and for others.

What do I see as I look over my shoulder in that "backward glance"? I see budding scholars and young researchers who have won scholarships and fellowships and national awards--Mellon, Thouron, Truman, and others. I see students recognizing that their peers come to college not only for a degree, but for the sheer joy of learning, and then creating an imaginative set of preceptorials to meet this desire.

I see students wanting to better serve their community, and hosting a conference to broaden their knowledge about Penn in West Philadelphia. I see students identifying the need for mentors for our female students and developing a speaker series of Women in Leadership.

I see all of you-- students who were leaders in academics, the arts, community service, athletics, and all manner of co-curricular activities. I see you honored by your peers. I see Rachel and Andy, Michelle and Tal, Marti and Jean-Pierre, Bethany and Jason: They were applauded yesterday for their achievements with Senior Honor Awards.

All of this--all of you--are in my mind's eye as I take this "backward glance."And now, even as we look back, let us look forward.

Whitman also said, "I celebrate myself and sing myself." Just like Whitman, each of you has sung a song of yourself during your years here. Those songs will be long-cherished. They will be long-remembered.

But now you must sing a new song. You go forth prepared to lead. As our readings today suggest, you must also be ready to serve.

A colleague of mine who was on campus this term, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, president emerita of Spelman College, has said: "The ultimate expression of leadership is service to others." That, my fellow Pennsylvanians, is your calling. That is your song.

It was Benjamin Franklin's intention. It is my intention. And, I believe from all you have shown during your years here, that it is your intention. The call of service is strong. And its song is beautiful.

You and I, we shared our freshman year together. Now, as we share one of the greatest moments of your senior year--indeed, your Penn career--I would like to share with you something from my senior year.

When I was where you are--when I was graduating from Penn in 1966--everyone was reading and considering the significance of a small book called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Like many books that were intensely popular at one time, it has since gathered dust on a number of shelves, but certain of its passages retain real power for me.

I close with one such passage. It articulates the imprint you have left on this great University--and on me. It is a farewell, but also an invitation. Most significantly, this passage articulates my greatest hope and prayer for you. It reads:

Fare you well. . . This day has ended. . .
What was given us here we shall keep. . . .
Farewell to you and the youth I have
spent with you.
It was but yesterday we met in a dream . . .
The noontide is upon us and our
half-waking has turned to fuller day,
and we must part. If in the twilight of
memory we should meet once more,
we shall speak again together and you
shall sing to me a deeper song.

Congratulations and may God bless you.

The Challenge to Invent a Better Way
by Andrea Mitchell

President Rodin, Faculty, Trustees, Parents, Reverend Clergy, but most important, Members of the Class of 1998:

Preparing for this day, I have been thinking long and hard about the values I learned on this beautiful campus--values reflected again in today's readings: love, peace, loyalty, service. They are the touchstones of our lives, the daily tests against which we measure character and true success.

For four years, you have been surrounded by examples of excellence in your teachers and your classmates. They've helped you learn how to shape a personal philosophy out of the everyday experiences of life. They've taught you how to think in conceptual terms. They've required you to process large amounts of information as you absorb principles and lessons about our culture.

The women of this class have had the good fortune to see many role models--including an important one in your President. The world is still imperfect, but it surely is more welcoming to women than in the past. Growing up as I did was a very different experience. Of course there were extraordinary women throughout history, but most of them were unknown outside a small circle. As Virginia Wolfe suggested, all those poems in anthologies signed "anonymous" were almost surely written by women.

We didn't learn about women in our history books, we didn't see them in our political life, they were absent from our television screens, except in demeaning roles. Even today, women of my generation are in a stage of transition. We were told we could have it all. Many of us now realize that was an unreasonable burden. Those who chose to work inside the home were diminished, unfairly. Those who chose more public careers were often celebrated beyond recognition--while beating themselves with guilt for what they felt they were neglecting.

The challenge for you, both men and women, is to invent a better way--a more humane society that does not ask women to behave as if they were not mothers or spouses, nor ask men to forget that they are fathers--new social compacts that permit all of us to pursue careers, if we choose, without denying the nurturing sides of our natures.

I've been struggling a bit to think of what guideposts to offer you, a generation so smart, so quick, so ready to tackle a world infinitely more complex than ours.

Our generation wrestled with big questions, questions of war, and race. We thought the answers were self-evident. We saw the world in clear, sharp contrasts. At first, literally, in black and white, on small television screens. A president shot. And then a civil rights leader assassinated. A child fleeing in terror from napalm. In those years, we rarely saw shades of gray. Every cause was a call to arms. We were not easily intimidated or persuaded to compromise. In retrospect, I think we sometimes raised the temperature so high that we created a kind of intransigence, which then produced a backlash as our country turned on itself.

Thirty years later, we are still suffering from some of the consequences. As you join our national conversation, we desperately need your idealism and energy. But instead of the rhetorical hyperbole of our current politics, you can contribute some much-needed balance. Be idealistic, but also be persistent, flexible, thoughtful. Bring more of what Yale Professor Steven Carter has called "civil listening" to our political discourse.

Be mediators, helping us rediscover our idealism, while also fashioning compromises just as the original American revolutionaries, Ben Franklin and his cohorts, did in this city more than two centuries ago. They legitimized the God-given right to challenge, to argue and dissent. It is as American as the Fourth of July. In fact, it is a universal impulse, a thirst for freedom most strongly expressed by people your age-people not yet disillusioned by the system, students of all generations, in all parts of the world.

We see it today in Indonesia, where the first challenge to a corrupt regime and its overpowering military came from the campuses. In recent decades we saw it in Soweto, in Manila, in Tiannamen Square. And last month, I saw that same undying human spirit in one of the world's more repressive societies, Afghanistan, ruled for the past two years by a fanatic regime. In the rubble of Kabul, a capital city devastated by two decades of war, almost everyone is a victim. But the most painful testimony is without face or voice. It is from the women, floating ghostlike, shrouded from head to toe in the heavy robes mandated by the Taliban clerics. Still, occasionally you can glimpse a silent protest, a flash of color from beneath the traditional burka.

As we celebrate our blessings this weekend, especially a Penn education, consider a society--the only place in the world--where girls and women are banned, completely forbidden, to get any education or participate in any work. A society with no medical care that consigns female surgeons to virtual house arrest. A society desperate for food that stops female United Nations relief workers at the border. The punishment for violators is horrific: public whippings, or weekly amputations held in a large amphitheater--or even execution.

Yet, despite all the risk, and with bands of heavily armed militia roaming the streets, incredibly two young men still sought me out, desperate to tell me their family story even though men are strictly forbidden even to talk to any woman who is not a blood relative. Eighteen-year-old Shaoib and his twenty-year-old brother Sharifi huddled on the floor of our car to avoid being detected. They told me how their mother had been headmistress of a school, their teenager sister an eager student. Now both are locked in a small mud house in this bombed-out city, becoming, like many Afghan women, increasingly suicidal. The young men also are beginning to lose hope of having any future.

But there still was a spark. As I left, the elder told me, "Someday we will be free. You will return, and by then I will also be a journalist." Even in a place forsaken by the rest of the world, he was holding tightly to a dream. He still thought of reporters as protectors of freedom.

How different in our society, where the news media are so disdained, although sometimes for good reason. When bombarded by self-important pundits and mindless cable chatter, it is easy to forget that journalism used to be thought of as a calling. When I started out in this field, we thought of ourselves as professionals. Our job then, and now, is to bear witness, to speak truth to power. Admittedly, these days, it is sometimes difficult to discern that mission. But in recent years, journalists around the world have sounded alarms about famine in Ethiopia, and genocide in Rwanda. In my line of work, there are still examples of courage, and service, and excellence. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists reports that in the past year alone there were 500 documented attacks on journalists or news organizations, in places as remote as Algeria and Turkey--and as near as Mexico.

As you undertake more study, or begin your careers, that kind of courage will not likely be asked of you. But what will be asked is that you use your imagination, show a willingness to see beyond your immediate world. Try to be reflective about your lives. Ask yourselves--in the morning, at midday, and again at night: Why was I born? What am I doing here? What is my purpose? Enjoy the trivia of everyday life, but remember that in the end, it is just that--delightful trivia.

In the years since I first tasted the joy of political reporting here at Penn, the people I have met who are truly happy are those who find meaning in work done well, and in service to their community. On this campus, I was taught that giving is a true pathway to knowledge, and growth. Reaching out to a neighbor is to discover the world at large, and our own true natures within.

For all of my travels, and the privilege of witnessing great moments of history, the real truths of life often come on a much smaller stage. When you leave this campus, be relentless in your search for knowledge. As you grow older, remain curious, because curiosity is the hallmark of real intelligence. It will keep you young in spirit, and enrich you in ways not possible from material success.

Even more than mine, your lives will change in countless new directions in the coming century. That is the mystery about to unfold--an adventure that will be your greatest gift, and most profound source of joy.

The Chair's Message at Commencement

'I Had No Inkling of the Upheavals...'

by John Keene

I am John Keene, professor of city and regional planning, and chair of the Faculty Senate.

Graduates of the Class of 1998, on behalf of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, I salute you. I salute your parents and loved ones who have helped you reach this point in your lives

You are a member of a small elite, whether you are an undergraduate or a graduate student. You have used your intelligence and your passion to empower yourself, to expand your understanding of life and the world so that you can better set your course and influence those around you. You are about to graduate from one of the best universities in a country with one of the best systems of higher education in the world. Think of the billions of people on this earth for whom such good fortune is literally inconceivable.

As I stand here looking out at all of you, my thoughts flash back to my own Penn graduation in 1966, when I received my Master's in City Planning. When I sat in Convention Hall, I had no inkling of the upheavals that would take place at Penn and on campuses across the nation in a few short years, as your parents' generation cried out against the injustices and inequities they saw around them. I certainly had no inkling of the technological and political changes that would occur around the world in the 30-odd years that have intervened since then.

How will your world be transformed by the grinding pressures of population growth, especially in developing countries? How will your world be affected by global warming, with its aftermath of climate change, sea level rise, and crop devastation? What ecosys-tems will collapse and what miraculous cures will elude you because of the loss of bio-diversity? How will your world be affected by political strife at home and in the rest of the world? How will your lives be remade by developments in transportation, information systems, medical science, work arrangements, and education? We can only guess.

You are the first set of graduates of whom it can confidently be said: More than half of you will be alive in 2050, when the world's population may have reached ten million people. Most of your grandchildren will be here to welcome in the 22nd century.

How do these three elements relate to each other: that you are uniquely fortunate, that you cannot know what the future holds, and that most of you will live for half a century?

As you prepare to start your careers and to establish or continue families, I urge three critically important propositions on you: First, the unique opportunities your Penn education opens to you impose on you a corresponding moral obligation to use your education to make the world a better place. Second, your Penn education has prepared you to deal with uncertainty and change and to meet difficult and unexpected challenges as they present themselves to you. Third, and most important, there are environmental and social imperatives that will dominate your world for the next fifty years. As you build your career and family, you must also take individual responsibility for protecting the global ecosystem, for controlling environmental pollution, and for reducing social injustice in the world, or human society as we know it will not continue.

On behalf of your professors, I wish you God speed and good luck in all aspects of your life.

The 1998 Commencement Address

In brief remarks at Commencement, President Judith Rodin gave a tribute to the 39th President of the United States for his continued service to his fellow citizens, and to men, women, and children around the globe. "The images of President Carter wielding a hammer in an American inner city, or monitoring elections in a struggling democracy are powerful, indelible. They speak to his abiding commitment to bettering the lot of those less fortunate than we are. Doing so much for so many, President Carter is a pubic servant in the truest sense.

"Graduates," she added, "I am proud that many of you walk with President Carter on this path. Penn strives to provide the resources and opportunities to enable you to make a real difference in the larger community, and many of you have answered the call to public service.

As mentors; as tutors; as volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, Christmas in April, and dozens, maybe hundreds, of other community-based programs; as members of Penn's Civic House; as students in our service-learning programs, you have turned outward, stretched your hearts, and committed yourselves to joining and sustaining community in West Philadelphia and beyond. And the lessons you have learned in service to others are every bit as important as those learned in the classroom."

Following an introduction by Interim Provost Michael Wachter, President Carter then gave the address transcribed here.

The Things You Cannot See by Jimmy Carter

Thank you very much. Thank you.

As a matter of fact, my wife Rosalynn and I build houses for Habitat for Humanity one week a year. The other 51 weeks we work at The Carter Center in Atlanta, which is not so well known.

We have programs, for instance, in 35 African nations. And not too long ago, just last month, we visited South Africa, where our oldest grandson, Jason, who finished college last May, is serving in the Peace Corps. I told Jason that I was going to give the commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania, and asked him for his advice. He said, "Remember four things: Be brief, tell a joke, speak to the students, the graduates, and remember that they're not going to remember anything you say."

After visiting Jason, we were going to go see Nelson Mandela. He learned about this visit, and he asked to go with us, because Jason said he wanted to visit the politician who was in office before he went to jail.

So I'm going to try to combine those four elements of advice from my grandson with my commencement talk to you. I'm very proud of this great university, and I've been filled with admiration for what has been done here in the various fields that you represent as graduates.

I grew up in the South, in southern Georgia, during a time that is now a source of embarrassment for me and many others, not only in our region of the nation, but also in other states of America, a time when racial discrimination was accepted not only by the bar association and the Supreme Court, but also by the Congress and the people of the United States. We bore a millstone of racial prejudice around our necks, both the white people and those of African descent.

My wife and I, on this last trip, visited our 125th nation since I left the White House, and we've been able to judge the problems that exist in many parts of the world. Racial discrimination is not the worst kind we've seen.

We have major projects in Sudan, a country in which 1.5 million people have been killed in a war based on ethnic strife, with a fundamentalist Muslim government and a Christian, basically a Christian revolutionary force. Ethnic and religious discrimination is not the worst.

The worst discrimination on earth is rich people against poor people. This is not a deliberate discrimination. It's not filled with hatred or animosity, but it permeates the human race.

Who are the rich people? I would say that everyone in this stadium, by my definition, is a rich person. A rich person is someone who has a decent home, who has a modicum of education, a reasonable level of health care, at least a prospect for a job, not afraid to go out of our house, at least in the daytime, feel that the police and judicial system are on our side. I think that if we make a decision, it will make a difference, at least in our own lives. Those are the rich people.

There are a lot of poor people around the world, and even next door to where we live, and it's very rare that we break down the chasm between us who have everything, and others whom we ignore and fail to get to know. How many of us actually know a poor family, even our maid's family or the guy who mows our lawn, well enough to go to his house or her house, have a cup of coffee and learn the names of their teenage kids? Or, God forbid, invite them to our house, and let their children get to know our children. Not very many.

I want you to remember this, and I will use Jason's advice, so maybe you will remember it, and I'm going to tell a joke. I'm an author, I've written 12 books. My wife wanted me to announce that all our books are still on sale.

A book that I wrote year before last is called Living Faith, and I included in it a joke about a man who died very proud of himself, went to heaven and was met by St. Peter at the pearly gates. And St. Peter said, "Tell me why you think you're qualified to go to heaven." And the man said, "Well, I made a lot of money on Earth, I had a beautiful home, I was excelling in every degree. I had my name in the paper often, I was a regular attender at church, I gave heavily to my church. I attended services regularly."

And St. Peter said, "Yes, but what did you do for other people?" There was a pause, and then the guy said, "Well, I remember back in the depression years, a hobo's family came by my house, and I told my wife to fix up some sandwiches for them. And she fixed a big paper sack, and the family really enjoyed those sandwiches. I guess, in those years, it was worth at least 50 cents."

And St. Peter said, "Well, that's nice, but anything more recent?" And the guy said, "Well, as a matter of fact, St. Peter, last year our neighbor's house burned down, down the street, and my wife and I looked on our back porch and found a little table that we were no longer using, and we gave it to him." St. Peter said, "How much was it worth?" And he said, "Well, I want to be honest in heaven: 50 cents."

St. Peter said to the angel, "Go down to Earth and see if this is an accurate story." So in a few minutes the angel came back and said, "Yes, he told the truth. What shall we do about it?" St. Peter said, "Give him his dollar back, and tell him to go to hell."

Well, as we rest on our laurels, if you don't remember about rich vs. poor, remember about the dollar being given back.

Another thing I want to caution you about, or encourage you to remember, is an encapsulated environment. There is an inclination in all of us to build around ourselves a secure place to live, where we are surrounded by people whom we can trust, whom we know, who are almost just like us, look like us, dress like us, drive in the same kinds of automobiles, go to the same places. And quite often, we have a tendency to be very proud of what we do. I'm proud of the University of Pennsylvania, I'm proud of Emory University, where I've been a professor for 15 years. But my work mostly is in Africa. And a few years ago, I was asked to make a speech to the Southeastern Region presidents of universities, and I happened to be in Africa, and I had to come back to New Orleans to make the speech.

So I was at a table that evening at the last final banquet with a group of African leaders, and I had a little tape recorder, and I asked them a question: "How much do American universities mean to you?" And I wrote down their answers. And I'll read, they're very brief, I'll read them. But these are actual transcripts of what was said.

One minister from the Seychelles, who happened to be the minister of finance, said, "American universities are rarely relevant." A woman who still serves in office from Uganda, she's the agriculture minister and also now the vice president, says, "What is known is not shared with those needing to know. Information is just exchanged among academics who never witness hunger or have personal knowledge of torture or see a denuded landscape. How many university presidents have ever been in a village where river blindness is prevalent or guinea worm a constant plague? We cannot even get our agricultural research scientists to go out into the fields because they look on extension workers and farmers as inferiors."

The prime minister of Ghana was there, and he said, "We know that almost everything is connected--health, nutrition, environmental quality, political stability, human rights. Some leading educators understand this, but the information is not even shared with our government ministers, whose decisions control the lives of our people." A minister of health from Zambia said, "Universities should be where the highest ideals are preserved, but we witness little interest in our problems."

On the way back home, I rode with a scientist who is well known maybe to some of you. His name is Bill Foege, perhaps one of the greatest public-health servants in history. I asked him the question as well, and he quoted to me, "In the education of my own children, I would want them to acquire three things:

  • "First of all, an inquisitive mind, always exploring new ideas, questioning old ones, not afraid to challenge the status quo.
  • "Second, I would want them to know that there is a cause and effect relationship. This is not a fatalistic world, inhabited by people whose suffering is inevitable, and whose problems cannot be solved.
  • "And third, I would want my children to know that they are world citizens. Their lives are inextricably tied to those in other nations. I would want them eager to learn foreign languages, forced to, if necessary."

That's the second point I want to make. Don't believe that we live in an encapsulated or parochial world where our own interests are paramount and our own beliefs are necessarily accurate. I tried to think of a story to illustrate this.

I was born in 1924. And in that same year, Texas had a woman governor whose husband had been governor before her. They called her Ma Ferguson. In Texas that year, there was a hot debate, which is still going on in California, Texas and other places, about whether you should use English only, or Spanish, in the elementary-school grades where the kids don't really speak good English. It was a hot debate. Ma Ferguson finally ended the debate. She held up a King James version of the Bible, and she said, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for Texas." So, you remember what Ma Ferguson said, and don't think that we know all the answers.

The last point I want to make is that we should continually stretch our minds. In the modern, fast-changing, technologicalworld, we're inclined to think that maybe all the major discoveries have been made. Some of the honorees behind me have proven that that's not so. There is a need for an individual human being, including every one of the Penn graduates, to remember this. Let's stretch our minds, try new ideas, not put a limit on ourselves.

Following Jason's advice again--Jason's going to be famous after this speech--I tried to think of a story to illustrate this. As a professor at Emory, I come across some kind of wise students who think they know more than the professors. I can't deny that quite often they're right in my class.

But, there was this student, a freshman, who had the reputation of proving that he knew more than the professor did. One of the final examinations in a physics class was, How do you use a barometer to measure the height of a building? And the student, instead of answering the question, said, "There are a lot of ways, Professor. I don't know which way you want it."

The professor called him in, and said, "Look, wise guy, you said you could use a lot of ways to have a barometer determine the height of a building. I want to know one way." And the student said, "Well, I know a lot of ways." And the professor said, "Tell me." He said, "Well one way is you take the barometer on the ground, you measure the air pressure, you go up to the top of the building, you measure the air pressure changes, you can compute the height of the building."

The professor said, "That's right. How about the other ways?" He said, "Well, you take the barometer, you put it on the ground, you measure the height of the barometer, you measure the height of its shadow, you measure the length of the building's shadow and you can compute the height of the building." And the professor didn't say anything.

"Anything else?" And the student said, "Yes, Sir. You can take the barometer to the roof, tie a string on it, lower it to the ground, measure the length of the string, and that gives you the height of the building." The professor said, "I'm getting tired of this. What else?"

The student said, "Well, take the barometer to the top of the building again, get a stop watch and drop it. Measure how long it takes to hit the ground; you got the height of the building."

By that time, the business dean came by, saw how things were going bad and said, "If you can tell me a way to measure the height of a building using business principles, we'll give you an A." And the student said, "That's easy. You take this nice barometer, go to the building superintendent on campus and say, 'If you tell me the height of the building, I'll give you this barometer.'"

So the point is, you can see, always try new ways to resolve difficult or intransigent problems.

Well, this is a great country. And I would like to close my remarks by talking about one word that's my favorite. And that is, transcendence. Transcendence: Doing more than is expected, above and beyond the call of duty or whatever.

We now live in the greatest nation on Earth, an unchallenged superpower. When I was President, it was also the greatest nation, but there were two superpowers, because of the nuclear arsenals. Now the Soviet Union is basically dissipating.

What are the characteristics of a superpower? The optimum transcendent characteristics of a superpower? I would say they're shaped by the combined or conglomerate desires, hopes, dreams, aspirations, moral standards and ideals of the American people. I think the United States should be the unquestioned champion of peace--not just for ourselves, but for others around the world, and not just in nations that have oil that we can use or things that we can benefit from, but in the smallest and most isolated countries.

In those nations that I visit around the world, our country is not looked upon as a champion of peace. We're looked upon as a nation with great military power and sometimes eager to use it. I think our nation should be the champion of freedom and democracy.

The Carter Center, for instance, has held elections 15 times in this hemisphere to bring about a change from a totalitarian government to a democratic government. Sometimes we hold elections to resolve disputes.

I think environmental quality. And I would say, finally, human rights and the alleviation of suffering. And speaking of suffering and the alleviation of it, I want to refer to the reason I came to Penn University today, and that's Roy Vagelos, the chairman of your board.

The Carter Center, working with Bill Foege, whom I quoted a few minutes ago, tries to alleviate suffering around the world. About 10 years or so ago, Roy Vagelos, then the chief executive officer of Merck and Company, came to our center, and he said, "We found that one of our veterinary medicines that we sell profitably will also prevent a terrible disease called onchocerciasis, or river blindness, and if The Carter Center will develop a system for distribution of this medicine--ivermectin, or Mectizan, as they call it--we'll give you the medicine." So we did so.

Later, Roy Vagelos and I went with my wife Rosalynn and his wife, to a little village in southern Chad, where everybody in the village had river blindness. But one tablet developed under Roy Vagelos' leadership will prevent river blindness. The person will never become blind. Last year, we treated with Merck's medicine, given free of charge to every village in the world in perpetuity, 21.5 million people who will never be blind. And I want to thank Roy Vagelos for that.

And I also would like to say that our country should set an example, even including the most recent news from India and potentially from Pakistan. I know India quite well. My mother served in India in the Peace Corps when she was 70 years old. And I think I'm the last president to visit India, the greatest, biggest democracy on Earth.

People look toward the United States with great admiration, but also guidance, and we have not been fair, I think, in trying to keep people from developing nuclear weapons. We have about-it's secret-but about 8,000 nuclear weapons. We insist that India not have one. We have failed to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We insist on India doing this.

We have ignored the opportunity and even contravened the overwhelming attitude of the world in insisting that we still plant land mines, the most devastating weapon against innocent, non-participating civilians. I would hope that our country could see that our example is the greatest deterrent to the spread of death, destruction and war.

And finally, I want to say just a word to you about transcendence. I think that all of us look upon ourselves as being blessed by God with one existence on earth. We want to make something of it. If you hadn't, you wouldn't have come to Penn.

But what kind of priorities do we set? It's not a matter of how much money we make, how secure we are in our old age, how many times our names get in the news media. There are other things. This has been a question that has been on the minds of people for many centuries.

Two thousand years ago, the people of Corinth asked St. Paul this question: "What is the most important thing of all?" The way they expressed it was, "What are the things in human life that never change?" And Paul gave a strange answer. He said, "They're the things you cannot see." You can see money, you can see a house, you can see your name in the paper. What are the things you cannot see that should be paramount in our lives? You can't see justice, peace, service, humility. You can't see forgiveness, compassion and, if you will excuse the expression, love.

Almanac, Vol. 44, No. 34, May 19/26, 1998