“LET THE OTHER LEAD YOU TO YOURSELVES”
Dear President, deans, faculty, minister, Parents
And especially dear Graduates,
It is an honor for me to address you on this very special day in your life, where, before receiving your degrees, you are gathered here to celebrate the harvest of your many years of studies and entrust your future to God.
I am not sure why your university decided that I would be the right person to share with you the graduation’s message. I am Maronite, not Armenian; I am catholic, not Evangelical; I teach at several universities, but not here… However, I may have an idea about the reason. I think the responsible here, wanted to make sure that, in addition to your degrees, you take with you from Haigazian University the “Blessing of the difference”. Yes, learning not only to live together on campus, with your different cultural and religious backgrounds, but also to learn how to appreciate this diversity and how to consider the other as a blessing for you and as an enrichment for life and society, were definitely among the aimed outcomes of your journey. Therefore I, in fact, know that I was invited to address you based on my experience in Adyan Foundation, that I have the honor and the blessing to be one of its founders and its current president.
You are not the luckiest promotion. Sorry to say so but sadly it’s true. Look to the world where you are now being sent to contribute with your skills and competences acquired during your studies. Look around you.
In Lebanon, we never knew such a failure in politics. Instead of being an example of coexistence and good governance for the region, we unfortunately are witnessing the most fragile situation in the history of the Lebanese Republic. No president, no legislative elections, no accountability to arrogant corrupted politicians… we are living in a country that isn’t even able to manage its garbage, so the government decided to make from it two mountains in the sea, one in Borj Hammoud, the northern entrance of Beirut, and the other one in Costa Brava, the southern side. (6/6)
Look at the region, Daesh is the keyword. It drowned the region in a barbarian age. And what is being the answer to this violent extremism? Sectarianism or political despotism!
And globally, the world is facing a dangerous combination of crucial factors: the wave of migration and refugees that is challenging the credibility of the international community and the basic principles of Human rights; the serious environmental and socioeconomic problems; and the rise of populist politics in the West. You are the generation and the promotion of Donald Trump as serious candidate to become the president of the first power in the world, and this is not a joke.
So, you are not going from the university to the world of beautiful opportunities! Few of you may be able to count on the “wasta” of their parents, and have a job offer here or there. But I know that your ambition is far beyond getting a job and entering this way the professional life. You want, and we need you, to contribute to make from this world a better one. This why, I invite you, instead of looking for opportunities that they are not there, look for the challenges of our current world, locally and globally, and take your part in transforming it.
It’s meaningless to have the best job and a well-paid position if you live with the fear of the other or with the depressed attitude of powerless victim. It’s usual in such circumstances to remind this beautiful quote of Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Yet in our current circumstances, I feel I need to invite you, not only to be, but to believe that you can be this change. It’s definitely a difficult path; yet it’s possible, since impossible is simply a viewpoint.
The world today is this man attacked by robbers on the road of Jericho, and you are the Good Samaritan, according to Jesus’ parable. Yes, give meaning to your future jobs and the new chapter in your life by considering whatever you want to do as a service for the wounded humanity. Muhammad Ali, who passed away few days ago leaving for us a great lesson of bravery and leadership said: “Serving the others, is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
You can do it, and we need you to do it. For this, you need to believe in three! Yourselves, the others, and God; and in this order. Because trust me, you cannot believe in God, if you don’t believe in yourself, and more challenging if you don’t believe in the other. In such case, your belief is fake! Yet, God believes in you, and comes to you through the other. This what the Holy Scriptures taught us today. This what Prophet Muhammad said in his hadith: “You are not true believer until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”
The other is the way that leads you to yourselves and to God; so don’t exclude the other from your life. Concretely speaking, go out from your comfort zone; don’t be afraid to cross boundaries, to push the frontiers of your living. Go off-road and explore the richness of life! If you were from Dahieh, don’t look for job there; go to Hamara or Ashrafieh; if you were from Jounieh find a job in Tripoli; And if you were from… (name it) look for a job that makes you meet the part of yourself that only the other can reveal to you!
Dear brothers and sisters, Graduates of Haigazian University
Today, you made your parents proud of you for what you did, for your successful graduation.
Tomorrow, look for making people proud, not any more for what you did, but for who you are!
Our world is witnessing lots of injustice, violence and sufferings. Be the peace-makers not the peace-talkers, to quote the Pope Francis.
If you dream for a better country, a better society, a better world, so, wake up! The size of your success will be measured not by the beauty of your dream, but by the strength of your dedication.
Fear is your worst enemy;
Love is your force;
And the other is your road to yourselves!
Mabrouk, I love you.