Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a man who, but for a few rare public appearances, stays out of the limelight. So for graduates of Hillsdale College in Michigan, Thomas’ commencement speech over the weekend was a unique opportunity to hear his thoughts on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Thomas discussed several issues in today’s society, many of them pertaining to behavior at colleges and universities.
“Hallmarks of my youth such as patriotism and religion seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts,” Thomas, 67, told the graduates Saturday. “Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness.”
The justice scoffed at what he said is a societal tendency to be prideful of having “grievances rather than personal conduct” and to be more attentive to individual rights instead of responsibilities.
Drawing a sharp distinction between dreamers and those who actually achieve, Thomas recommended the graduates prioritize making an impact in the real world over pie-in-the-sky notions of attempting to “change the world.”
“Having been where you are, I think it is hard enough for you to solve your own problems, not to mention those problems that often seem to defy solution,” he said. “In addressing your own obligations and responsibilities in the right way, you actually help to ensure our liberty and our form of government.”
Thomas said his guiding principles come from his grandfather, who taught him to admire “duty, honor [and] country” despite his being brought up in a racially segregated society. “He knew that though not nearly perfect, our constitutional ideals were perfectible if we worked to protect them rather than to undermine them,” the justice said. “Don’t discard that which is precious along with that which is tainted.” Thomas’ autobiography, My Grandfather’s Son, was an homage to his late grandfather, Myers Anderson, who raised him.
The 1991 Supreme Court appointee ended his speech by emphasizing to the graduates the importance of their family and teachers. “These are the people who have shown you how to sacrifice for those they love, even when that sacrifice is not always appreciated,” he said. Thomas also stressed the significance of being a good person, stating, “As you go through life, try to be that person whose actions teach others how to be better people and better citizens.”
h/t: Washington Examiner