Remarks as ready for Johns Hopkins College President Ronald J. Daniels for supply on the universitywide Graduation ceremony on Could 27, 2021.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
I’m simply savoring this second.
We’re all right here. Collectively. On historic Homewood Area.
With a spirit of celebration, gratitude and optimism, as we mark the 145th Graduation ceremony of Johns Hopkins College. And so, let’s start.
To our alumni and trustees; to our college and workers; to our mother and father, relations, and pals; to our distinguished speaker, Mayor Mike Bloomberg; and most particularly to our graduates …. welcome to the Johns Hopkins College Graduation for the good Class of 2021!
To the Class of 2021, you probably did it. You made it to the end line in circumstances that have been greater than a tad difficult. Within the face of essentially the most devastating worldwide pandemic in additional than a century, you stored your moxie, your equilibrium, and your focus. You did not simply muddle by means of your remaining yr at Hopkins—you soared. You discovered ingenious methods to maintain the wealthy tapestry of campus life alive, on and off of Zoom. And also you took significantly our shared accountability for our group’s public well being.
You accomplished—look forward to it—67,000 COVID saliva exams, requiring 337,000 minutes of your time and roughly, give or take, 4,563 ounces of your saliva. For the file, Mayor Bloomberg, I do know you will have an interest, our consultants have decided that that is sufficient saliva to fill one massive bathtub or for somebody to take two, very lengthy showers.
You additionally have been among the many first to leap on the Blue Jay Shuttle to get your vaccinations, and to volunteer on the mass vaccination website right here in Baltimore.
Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.
We all know that for all of the methods by which you’ve got stepped up, you additionally bore the burden of the pandemic’s dizzying discombobulation. As governments and public well being organizations tried to handle this illness, you have been hemmed in, and maybe bewildered, by the onslaught of latest guidelines and strictures. As tens of millions have been confined to their properties or their residence halls, you have been compelled to seek out new methods to keep up significant human connections. As the worldwide financial system faltered, you apprehensive about relations and pals dropping jobs or burning out. And because the virus unfold from nation to nation, you witnessed extraordinary struggling and loss, together with amongst individuals whom you’re keen on.
This was a disruption of historic dimensions that left nobody—none of us—unscathed.
But it was additionally an historic alternative.
You see, whilst we persevered by means of the day-to-day struggles of the final year-plus, the ruptures lease by COVID allowed us&mdadsh;and in some instances compelled us—to see in stark reduction facets of ourselves and our world that had been too lengthy ignored or ignored. The pandemic gave us a uncommon, maybe fleeting, probability not solely to look at our world anew, but in addition to assume and act anew.
“The cracks we now see, on the earth we as soon as knew, afford us the area, the flexibility to make choices and to take actions that we’d by no means have dreamed of in any other case.”
Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins College
Maybe as a result of I’m a child boomer from Canada, I discovered myself returning to a selected lyric penned by the late Montreal-born poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen: “There’s a crack, a crack in every little thing. That is how the sunshine will get in.”
Cohen was born in 1934. By the point he recorded that line for the primary time, in 1992, he had absorbed the atrocities of the Holocaust, lived by means of the terrifying nightmare that was the Chilly Conflict, and witnessed the democratic uprisings that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the autumn of the Berlin Wall. He had seen for himself the cracks, the fractures, the damaged shards of our world, however he had additionally glimpsed the sunshine and the chance that these fissures let in.
For me, Cohen’s phrases resonate powerfully on this second.
Final yr, nearly in a single day, every little thing appeared to crack without delay, and in flip compelled us to see extra of that which had been hidden in plain sight. The sudden pivot in March 2020 to distant education and work confirmed the issues and gaps in our nation’s schooling system and technological infrastructure. Precipitous job losses laid naked the holes in our social security web that go away too many hungry and neglected. The subversion and distortion of scientific details throughout the echo chambers of social media stoked the polarization that has been tearing the material of our society for years. And the disparate affect of the pandemic on communities of colour—coupled with the murders of George Floyd and so many different Black Individuals, in addition to rising violence towards different traditionally marginalized teams—reminded us but once more how far we have now to go to appreciate absolutely America’s founding dedication to equality and liberty for all.
And as these painful cracks have been laid naked, we heard additionally the requires actual, formidable reform; we witnessed the acts of solidarity and compassion; we felt the potential for enduring change.
There’s a crack in every little thing, however that is how the sunshine will get in.
We all know from expertise (and from the literature) that there are moments within the historical past of a society or an establishment or a life which are so disruptive and so wrenching that they upend every little thing. All bets are off. Economists and political scientists name such moments vital junctures. And significant junctures characterize that uncommon alternative for lasting, nontrivial, significant change. They’re an opportunity, as Cohen says elsewhere in his tune, to “ring the bells that also can ring.”
The cracks we now see, on the earth we as soon as knew, afford us the area, the flexibility to make choices and to take actions that we’d by no means have dreamed of in any other case—whether or not that is marshaling the energy and braveness to make sure that the stirring promise of this nation’s founding beliefs is made out there to each American, or pursuing a selected path or ardour or thought in our lives or careers that we might by no means have imagined within the “earlier than occasions”—one thing your graduation speaker Mike Bloomberg and our honorary diploma recipient Ernie Bates each know greater than a bit about.
Class of 2021, we can not wait to see how you’ll rework the sparkles of sunshine earlier than us right into a luminous beam of hope. You’re our beacons. Lead us towards a healed world, towards a greater world.
Congratulations once more in your exceptional achievements in a really exceptional time.