On the Occasion of Commencement at Deerfield Academy
Deerfield, Massachusetts, US
28 May 2000
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is such a wonderful feeling to be back here at Deerfield, to honour the great class of 2000! Together, parents, teachers, and friends, we are all united today to rejoice in your achievements and to share in your excitement. For those of us who know this school, we sense some of the deep emotion that you all felt, when, moments ago, you walked as one, down Albany Road for the last time.
As I try to find the common bonds that tie the graduates of the year 2000 to my class of 1980, the values learnt at Deerfield immediately come to mind. Honesty, integrity, and the best of friendship are virtues that were not taught to us in classrooms. They were values that described our life up here, and that later became part of our character. Even discipline, which was not very much appreciated at the time, has turned out to be the most important tool that we all have utilised, to overcome challenges and surmount difficulties. We all share similar memories of events and places that tell a story of youth, adventure and happiness. We are all students of a Deerfield brand of knowledge and a special kind of achievement. Most importantly, we are all believers in a code of conduct that respects humanity and defends morality. It protects family values, and upholds equality and freedom. It is a lesson that continues to shape our priorities and remind us of our responsibilities. It is a light that guides our path through life, its meaning and challenge. This is what we share, and this is the bond that exists between us all, graduates of this great institution of learning and ethics.
What distinguishes your class from all the rest however, is the fact that you are witnessing the most rapid transformation in our history. You are living the future that we were once promised. It is a reality where knowledge has introduced new patterns in education, commerce, communications, and services. Virtual and physical reality are increasingly becoming one and irreversibly changing our conduct of life. Many of us still ponder the effect of these changes, and many more need to adapt quickly if we are to be part of this technological revolution. For you, representatives of a new generation, this represents a promise as well as an enormous challenge. In an unprecedented manner that defies conventional wisdom, your future has become in many ways immediate. Technology and change have given you an advantage that we certainly did not possess. Your orientation period to the real world will therefore be shorter, yet much more effective, and will enable you to make decisions and to choose careers more readily than ever. Your academic training will also be more focused and intense, and will differ in terms of requirements and available tools. Your expectations will be much more realistic and will be based on facts that will no longer be part of the realm of anticipation. In short, you will be able to control your fate much sooner than any of us did. For those who fail to accept change, you will be a living proof that the new generation, representing this colossal transformation will be much more humane, responsive and efficient than any other one. You will respond to scepticism with a moral conduct that belongs to Deerfield, and will mark achievements with the confidence and humility that makes you part of its family. Your humanity and ethics will be the distinctive marks that will remain constant in a rapidly changing world. Always remember that these are the values that will pave your road to success. The challenges ahead are also big. You will suffer from lack of precedence in many instances. You will have to deal with global interdependence that brings peril and promise. You will also have to separate the material from the moral and learn to strike the needed balance. You need to remember that great expectations can also carry disappointments on the road to eventual fulfilment, and you will need to learn to address weaknesses, overcome defeats, and treasure the victories. The new reality will be somehow different but it will continue to be composed of facts of life that give it meaning and make it all worth living. During your course, you will be followed by those who want you to succeed and to chart new roads to progress. Your achievement will therefore be historic and your task all the more significant. Rest assured that we shall lead those who observe, full of confidence in your ability and your commitment to achieve and succeed.
All of us members of the Deerfield family are proud to belong to the tradition and to cherish the memories that have kept Deerfield Academy a vital part in our lives. As a soldier, one recognises the importance of basic training to the development of a military career. As a public servant whose duty is to safeguard the well-being and interest of almost five million Jordanians, I have come to appreciate the lessons learnt at this place more profoundly than ever. Wisdom, patience, and justice were virtues that were instilled in us by genuine masters of excellence, whose dedication and commitment are truly admirable. You, the teachers, are the ones who make this place what it really is, a centre for achievers. You are the ones who shape the world and determine its priorities. We salute you for the tenacity with which you have performed your immense responsibilities. As you celebrate the commencement of yet another Deerfield class that is eager to embrace the challenges of modernity and progress, you truly represent the acceptance and essence of change. You have championed the move to embrace the new age and are laying the foundations of the new reality. But you also provide linkages to the heritage upon which Deerfield was built. Teachers like Mr. Peter Hindle, who will retire this year after 44 years of service to Deerfield. The "Czar" has been an educator and a mentor for thousands of students who passed through the academy. His unwavering support for students is as pertinent now as it was four decades ago. His dedication and that of the rest of the faculty guarantees that the pioneering spirit of Deerfield will forever stay alive and will always be there to chart the new horizons.
I wanted this address to be a special one, one that marks my first commencement speech. One that sees me as a parent whose concern for the future is assured by the confident faces I see in front of me today, of young pioneers ready to live the future and eager to chart new courses in its path. I shall refrain from offering advice, since you all know what is right and what is not, what is just and what is not, and what is moral and what is not. Allow me to just express a wish that your world will be a fairer one, a gentler one and a more caring one. Each one of you is a leader and will surely make a real difference. In my own country, I am relying on the young people of your age to make that difference and to achieve our dreams and theirs. As the world moves from one historical epoch to another, the young will determine the reality of the present and of the future. You are today at the crossroads where the future is all yours, to make, to fulfil, and to protect. Learn from our mistakes, and do not repeat them, acknowledge our achievements, and build upon them, and trust in your values and do not compromise them. This is our faith in your present, in your future, in your promise.
In closing, I would like to leave you with a saying my father left to me and my graduating course at the British Military Academy Sandhurst, less than a year after leaving Deerfield. I was a young inexperienced second lieutenant, with life, its promise of adventure and its challenge of danger ahead of me, and these words I never forgot. I hope that you will also find some meaning in them as you start a new phase in your lives. Let me also quickly apologise, ladies, for the political incorrectness of these lines. He said:
God give us men.
A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands!
Men whom the lust of office does not kill.
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy.
Men who possess opinions and a will.
Men who love honour - Men who cannot lie.
Good luck to all of you. I wish you all the best and may God light your way.
Thank you very much.