Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, every day has been a “Memorial Day “ for a family somewhere in that country.
Four days ago Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a surprise commencement address to graduates of Johns Hopkins University by a live video link.
His country is in a war for its freedom. Yet he took time to speak to 10,00 students and families of an American university’s graduating class.
The following are short excerpts from his ten minute speech in English. They offer insight for how he views his leadership role. These are words of discernment and character.
To the Johns Hopkins University Graduating Class of 2023:
Time is of the essence, and it is that essence that I would like to talk about today. One of the most common truisms on Earth is the advice to value, or at least not waste time. Why has it become so widespread?
Every person eventually realizes that time is the most valuable resource on the planet, not oil or uranium, not lithium or anything else, but time. Time.
The very flow of time convinces us of this. Some people realize this sooner, and these are the lucky ones. Others realize it too late when they lose someone or something. People cannot avoid it. This is just a matter of time. . .
Will you be able not to waste this time of your life? This topic seems trivial, but these are very, very difficult questions for every person. How you answer them is how you live. And while it is still possible to find new deposits of oil or lithium, and if in the future humanity can start mining resources in space, it is still purely science fiction to live longer than has been given. . .
Of course, I do not wish anyone to feel like they are in my shoes, and it’s impossible to give a manual on how to go through life so as not to waste its time.
However, one piece of advice always works. You have to know exactly why you need today and how you want your tomorrows to look like. You have to know this when you are a politician and have to achieve a certain goal for your country. You have to know this when you are a soldier and you have to defend your position so that the whole country is protected.
You have to know this when you just have to go through life. Sometimes, however, when you are young and when you are a student, you still need to waste some time. What is life without it? But only sometimes, and when no one else depends on you.
And I’m certain you, as your forefathers, will continue to lead the free world. And this century will be our century, a century where freedom, innovation, and democratic values reign. A century where tyrannies that repress their own and seek to enslave their neighbors will vanish from us once and for all.
But all of our tomorrows, and the tomorrows of our children and grandchildren, depend on each of our todays. On each of our todays.” END of speech.
From the Book of Haggai: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former. . .and in this place will I give peace.”
We can pray that this is Ukraine’s destiny on this day of memories of lives lost in past and present wars. Dona Nobis Pacem