Yale graduates aren’t the only ones who will leave college with the words of former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 ringing in their ears.
Clinton delivered the commencement speech at West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences on Monday. He told the crowd of roughly 10,000 people that the 21st century is a time of exciting change and possibility, but also of gross inequality.
“The time you live in is highly unstable, and unequal and unsustainable,” Clinton said.
Clinton talked about the repercussions of modern society’s dependence on fossil fuels and other unsustainable energy sources, referring to an April 5 explosion that killed 29 men in West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine and the recent Gulf Coast oil spill. He also talked about racism, poverty and other factors that create inequality among neighbors in America and around the world.
But solutions are possible if people work together and seek common ground, Clinton said, adding that the sequencing of the human genome showed all people are 99.9 percent the same.
“In an interdependent world, the only way to celebrate what is unique about your life is to recognize that what we have in common matters more,” he said.
The Daily Beast recently ranked Clinton second on its list of “The 30 All-Time Graduation Speakers.” With 30 commencement speeches to his name, Clinton was close behind the news website’s first-place speaker, comedian and activist Bill Cosby, who has delivered 37 speeches to new graduates.
Clinton will speak at Yale’s Class Day this coming Sunday.