Unconventional Advice: Remember the Pain(ful)

I recently came across a speech from Chief Justice of the United Supreme Court, John Roberts who is currently presiding over the presidential impeachment trial.

While the passionate and honest address was directly to his son’s Grade 9 graduating class at an exceptionally exclusive private school for boys in Grades 6-9, it might be one of the more memorable convocation lessons ever orated. Roberts’ entire graduation speech is below.

Here’s an excerpt that I find simply beautiful:

Commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.

I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.

And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

 

Roberts’ words and thoughts acknowledge the myriad of difficulties and consolation in our lives. They also serve as a powerful reminder that remembering those trying times and the associated feelings is knowledge gained. Knowledge to move us forward with a little more empathy and kindness.

JY

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