Back in the summer of 2013 I came across a graduation speech by one of my favorite authors. Even though I’d graduated many years ago, I always like listening to my favorite authors. Especially when they’re tasked with talking to people at such an interesting moment in their life; a time of transition and hope and panic. George Saunders has written some of my favorite short stories so when he was tasked with giving the convocation speech at Syracuse University I was ready to listen. That speech has stuck with me ever since.
His message was simple – Be kind. But of course like with all great simple things, it’s not really that simple. Being kind is hard. It’s easier to stay silent. It’s easier to worry about yourself. It’s easier to go along with the group. But if we want to lead lives without regrets, lead thoughtful and wonderful lives, we have to try to be kind whenever possible, as much as possible.
Saunders really says it so well. You can read his full speech by clicking on the quote below or watch the video which is an animated snippet of the speech.
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. ….
“But kindness it turns out, is hard.”