Former President Bill Clinton has a message for young adults: “Set the world on fire with your imagination, not with your matches.”
But in a possibly veiled reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump – Hillary Clinton’s likely opponent in the November general election – Clinton warned against “identity politics” in which “our differences are all that matter.”
Clinton was the graduation speaker at Loyola Marymount University Saturday, and he urged his audience to embrace connections to the rest of the world.
“You are graduating in the most interdependent age in human history,” Clinton told the class. “…And so whether we like it or not, for the rest of your lives, what happens to you will in some measure be determined by what happens to other people. By how you react to it, how they treat you, how you treat them, and what larger forces are at work in the world.”
“The last few years have seen an amazing explosion of economic, social and political empowerment. They have also laid bare the power of persistent inequalities, political and social instability and identity politics based on the simple proposition that our differences are all that matter,” Clinton continued, urging the grads to engage with the world in creative ways.
The former president also praised LMU’s graduating class for performing almost 200,000 hours of community service.
Clinton spoke to graduates exactly one month before the California primary election, in which his wife Hillary will be looking for a boost in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton kept the address mostly free of overt references to the current race for the nation’s top elected position.
In announcing the former president as the commencement speaker, LMU President Timothy Law Snyder last month called him “one of the great statesmen of our time.”
“His commitment to improving the lives of other people, during and beyond his career in U.S. politics, embodies the ethos of becoming women and men with and for others,” Snyder said. “President Clinton will inspire our graduates as they seek to lead lives of meaning, purpose and global impact.”
More than 1,400 bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees were conferred during the ceremony. Among the graduates was Clinton’s nephew Tyler, according to the university.
About 700 graduate degrees will be conferred during a separate ceremony on Sunday.
Founded in 1911, LMU, sits on a leafy hilltop between Playa Vista and Westchester. It is the largest Jesuit Catholic university for undergraduates in the Southwest, with more than 6,000 undergraduate students and 3,000-plus graduate and law students.
—City News Service
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