Westminster speaker hopes students keep politics in place

The first two students walk triumphantly through the columns during the Columns Ceremony following Westminster College's 2012 commencement ceremony. Students walk through the columns toward the school during their freshman year, and again cross through them toward the world following graduation.

The first two students walk triumphantly through the columns during the Columns Ceremony following Westminster College's 2012 commencement ceremony. Students walk through the columns toward the school during their freshman year, and again cross through them toward the world following graduation. Photo by Dean Asher.

“Today is more than just Cinco de Mayo.”

For the 222 Westminster College students who took the stage at the Spring 2012 commencement ceremony May 5, truer words might never have been spoken than those by Class of 2012 President Justin King.

This year’s commencement speaker, former U.S. senator John C. Danforth, sought to drive home just how important that day was. Danforth wanted the graduating class to know they don’t have to wait to change the world.

“Since much of my life has been spent trying to influence public policy, my one point today may seem odd, considering its source,” said Danforth. “My one point is this. If you want to change the world, do it yourselves. Don’t leave it to government.”

Danforth’s speech comes at a time when he said the politics of America are polarized and the national rhetoric “angry and extreme.” Danforth hoped Westminster’s graduating students would think less about politics in their coming world experiences, and more about themselves.

“Politics isn’t as important in the real lives of real people as politicians suppose,” he said. “Self importance about our politics is worse than unrealistic. It makes us dogmatic, self-righteous and locked into our positions.

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