Former President Barack Obama gave a stirring speech to 2020 grads at Graduate Together: High School Class of 2020 Commencement, a well-produced and thoughtful broadcast tribute to this year’s grads amid the coronavirus crisis.
While Obama offered some life advice to the grads, he also made some rare comments on current events, notably the nation’s health crisis and the Trump administration’s disastrous response to it.
Said Obama: “This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our country’s deep-seated problems — from massive economic inequality to ongoing racial disparities to a lack of basic health care for people who need it. It’s woken a lot of young people up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work; that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other.”
“It’s also pulled the curtain back on another hard truth, something that we all have to eventually accept once our childhood comes to an end,” Obama continued. “All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? Turns out that they don’t have all the answers. A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions. So, if the world’s going to get better, it going to be up to you.”
“Do what you think is right,” he later added. “Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up.”