Every year around this time the high and mighty are sent out to address the youth of America at graduation ceremonies across the nation. These dignitaries offer all sorts of advice, from the profound to the incredibly practical, but rarely do their speeches make a lasting mark.
But Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts may have just entered the elite club of those who managed to write a commencement address that will actually be remembered. (Other confirmed members include Steve Jobs and David Foster Wallace.)
For his remarks at his son's graduation from Cardigan Mountain School, an elite $55,000 a year boarding school for boys in grades six to nine, Roberts' produced what The Washington Post called "the best thing [he] wrote this term." The complete speech, including quotes from both Socrates and "great American philosopher" Bob Dylan, is below if you want to get all the wisdom, but here's the part that's moving people to tears:
Commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I'll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.
I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don't take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.
And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you'll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.
Some are calling the remarks a rebuke to President Trump with his marked lack of humility and taste for gloating, but whatever your politics, the fact remains this is wisdom we can all benefit from being reminded of, regardless of our political allegiances.
Not only does the speech offer consolation to those being battered by some of life's less pleasant experiences -- at least your trials will teach you to value that which you currently lack -- but it's also a stark reminder of the role of luck in advancement and an important call to let that knowledge nudge you towards greater empathy and kindness.