Tom Hanks is fighting for the truth, and he hopes Harvard University 2023 graduates will, too. The accomplished Harvard University graduating class was treated to an inspirational commencement speech by the actor, 66, on Thursday, May 25, in which he advocated for them to use their “special powers and abilities” to “fight the never-ending battle for truth, for justice, and for the American way.” By fighting for this and not falling weak to those who twist the truth for their own advancement, Tom is confident everyone in America can enjoy its core values: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Using his Hollywood background, Tom likened the 2023 graduates to Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes. “It is in the vision quest for truth that we look to you newly incorporated members of the Justice League of Avengers to come to the rescue, for the truth to some is no longer empirical. It’s no longer based on data, nor common sense, nor even common decency,” the two-time Academy Award winner explained, taking a hit at today’s polarized climate.“Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark for public service. It’s no longer the salve to our fears, or the guide to our actions. Truth is now considered malleable, by opinion and by zero-sum endgames.”
“Imagery is manufactured with audacity, with purpose to achieve the primal task or marring the truth with mock logic. To achieve with fake expertise, with false sincerity, with phrase like, ‘I’m just saying,’” he continued. “Now literally you cannot believe your eyes and your ears will help others lie to you. Someone will report the world to you exactly as you wish it were, full of alternative facts.”
And although Tom knows that the alternative universe he described of self-approved facts may be alluring to many, he protested that truth is even more beautiful. “Truth feeds up in the high country, as elusive as serenity yet as certain as the North Star and the Southern Cross,” he noted. “Truth is mined at the intersections of our chosen behaviors and our fixed habits and our personal boundaries.”
Tom reminded the 2023 Harvard graduates that truth, honesty, and transparency are achievable at a national level if they are willing to stand up for what is right. “It’s the same option for all grownups who have to decide to be one of three types of Americans: Those who embrace liberty and freedom for all; those who won’t; or those who are indifferent,” the Cast Away star explained. “Only the first do the work of creating a more perfect union, a nation indivisible. The others get in the way.” He also warned that “indifference will narrow the vision of America’s people and make dim the light of Lady Liberty’s symbolic torch.”
“In the never-ending battle you have all officially joined as of today, the difference is in how truly you believe, and in how vociferously you promote and how tightly you hold to the truth that is self-evident,” the Elvis actor noted. “That of course, we are all created equally yet differently, and of course, we are all in this together.”
He echoed the same sentiment as he concluded his speech. “The responsibility is yours. Ours. The effort is optional. But the truth, the truth is sacred. Unalterable. Chiseled into the stone and the foundation of our republic,” Tom implored.
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