American politics would probably be a lot better off if members of Congress listened to Gen. Colin Powell's commencement address at High Point University.
Among some of the brilliant pieces of advice that Powell, the former Secretary of State, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and national security advisor, had for the class of 2014 during the May 3 ceremony:
- "Make sure you share the talent and the time and the treasure you have with others who are in greater need than you."
- "Go forth and raise strong families remembering that all you can ever leave behind is your reputation, your good works and your children for the next generation."
- "Don't fall for slogans, one liners, screamers, hate peddlers or cable pundit commentary, don't fall for those who will not compromise. This nation is here because our founding fathers with all of their different beliefs ... as strongly as they felt about everything, they knew they had to compromise in order to create a constitution, in order to create the great country we now enjoy."
- "As you go through life, listen to the other side. Have your eyes and your ears and your heart open to counterviews so we can get back what makes this country great in the political sense – the ability to compromise with each other and not just freeze ourselves on a spectrum of political desire from the right or from the left."
- "We are still the unique place that inspires the rest of the world, so never, never sell America short."
We can't help but think of how useful it'd be if every member of Congress took those comments to heart.
Young voters in the class of 2014 are not excited about the November elections this year. Like the rest of America, millennials have a low opinion of Congress and feel like they don't have a say in the government's actions and politics today, according to a poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics.
But Powell reminded graduates not to give up, because they have the power to change things.
“If you don't like what your elected representatives are doing, vote them out," he said. "If you do like what they are doing, then vote them in."
Powell went on to add, "We complain a lot today about politics and politicians and often for good reason. But we can’t sit around waiting for superman or superwoman to come in 2014 or 2016. We the people are the supermen and the superwomen. We are the deciders."
So where should the graduates start on their journey to becoming a superman?
"If you want to save the world, start by saving just one kid," Powell told them. "That's what it’s all about."