Lessons from Obama’s 250th Rutgers Commencement Speech

The lessons I learned from President Obama at the 250th Rutgers Commencement

  1. When you hear someone longing for the ‘good ol’ days’, take it with a grain of salt.

We’ve always made progress and progress has never been steady. The only thing you need to do is to focus on the future and not an imaginary past.

  1. The world is interconnected, and becoming more every day. Building walls won’t change that.

We have to help others in order to help ourselves. Pushing each other away will only make things worse.

  1. Facts, evidence, reason logic and an understanding of science are good things. They are qualities of life as well as necessary.

Don’t worship anti-intellectualism. Don’t assume that whatever is on the web must be true. We search websites to reaffirm our thoughts and make us feel good. So we have to start seeking information that challenges us and forces us to challenge it.

  1. Be involved in politics.

If you want any change, you have to be forceful enough to implement it. The only way for a democracy to work is if the voters stay involved. Don’t shut out people you disagree with, be encouraged to challenge their ideas with yours while they do the same thing.

  1. Gear yourself for the long haul.

In whatever path you choose: you will have setbacks. You will deal with foolish people, have a boss that’s not great, be frustrated, and won’t always get what you want. But you have to be persistent. Work your best. Success comes when you keep striving. Don’t lose hope in the face of naysayers. Cynicism is so easy and cynics don’t accomplish much. In the words of Bruce Springsteen, “Cynics spend their lives waiting for a moment that just don’t come.”

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