Vital Signs

To Reach the Limits of Virtue

Commencement speech to the Class of 2012, Veritas Preparatory Academy, Phoenix, Arizona

Thank you for allowing me a few moments to address these graduates.  I am truly honored.  This is an impressive group of young people, so much so that I must admit I am especially grateful to be speaking before the valedictorians, and not after!  I congratulate all of you on your achievement.  You have spent years devouring some of the greatest works of Western civilization, and now you stand on the brink of the world outside.

Normally, the commencement speaker challenges the graduating seniors to transform the world, to lead society on the inexorable march men call Progress, as if you were young Bolsheviks or Jacobins.  That is not what I wish for you.  On the contrary, now that you have carried on daily conversations with the greatest minds in history, it is your task to call our civilization back to truths it has allowed itself to forget.  I would ask you not to create a brave new world but to kindle the flame of the old at the very moment when it stands most in danger of being extinguished, to hearken to the past in order to address the moral and intellectual turpitude of the present.  Far from being progressive, or even conservative, some might call this downright reactionary, but there you have it.

You will find that while there...

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