Every once in a while, a commencement address really stands out to us. We pointed out J.K. Rowling’s wonderful speech to Harvard graduates in 2008.
This year, Tom Hanks address to Yale grads caught our ear. He talked about fear and faith. The context led up to a call to action – to help our returning troops as they transition from soldier back to citizen.
But the message is ripe with timely advice for all of us. We can’t say it any better. Here is Tom Hanks in his own words:
“…fear is a powerful physiological force in 2011. We here, up in the stands and surrounding you graduating class, look to you as we do every year, hoping you will now somehow, through your labors, free us from what we have come to fear. And we have come to fear many things.”
“Fear has become the commodity that sells as certainly as sex. Fear is cheap. Fear is easy. Fear gets attention. Fear is spread as fast as gossip and is just as glamorous, juicy and profitable. Fear twists facts into fictions that become indistinguishable from ignorance. Fear is a profit-churning go-to with a whole market being your whole family.”
Fear vs. Faith
He quoted John Paul Jones, ‘If fear is cultivated, it will become stronger. If faith is cultivated, it will achieve mastery.’
He added, “…I take that fear to be fear in the large scale. Fear itself – intimidating and constant. And I take faith to be what we hold in ourselves, our American ideal of self-determination.”
Fear is whispered in our ears and shouted in our faces. Faith must be fostered by the man or woman you see every day in the mirror. The former forever snaps at our heels and our synapses and delays our course. The latter can spur our boot heels to be wandering, stimulate our creativity and drive us forward.”
“Fear or faith. Which will be our master?” he asked.
He continued, “Your rising from bed every morning will give fear its chance to grow stronger just as it will afford faith its chance to blossom. You will make the choice to react to one or create the other.”
He concluded, “Your work begins – work that will not be always joyful to you, labor that may not always fulfill you and days that will seem like one damn thing after another.
It’s true – you will now work every day for the rest of your lives, that full time job. Your career…is to stand on the fulcrum between fear and faith. Fear at your back, faith in front of you.
Which way will you lean? Which way will you move?
Move forward. Move ever forward.”
Image in this post from dlnny