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Quotes of the day: Paul Tsongas

Published Sunday, January 18, 2015 @ 12:02 AM EST
Jan 18 2015

Paul Efthemios Tsongas (February 14, 1941 - January 18, 1997) was a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 1979 to 1985. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 1992 presidential election. Tsongas was generally viewed as a social liberal and an economic moderate. He was especially known for his efforts in Congress in support of historic preservation and environmental conservation on the one hand, as well as for his pro-business economic policies on the other. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A commencement is a time of joy. It is also a time of melancholy. But then again, so is life.

America is hope. It is compassion. It is excellence. It is valor.

America is the sum of all our journeys as we search for our national community and our national culture.

Don't fear your mortality, because it is this very mortality that gives meaning and depth and poignancy to all the days that will be granted to you.

I came from a disadvantaged home. They were Republicans.

In this era of the global village, the tide of democracy is running. And it will not cease, not in China, not in South Africa, not in any corner of this earth, where the simple idea of democracy and freedom has taken root.

It was a myth that's often perpetuated at commencement that holds that only hope and promise lie beyond the halls of academe. Don't worry, be happy. Everything is fine.

Journey with me to a true commitment to our environment. Journey with me to the serenity of leaving to our children a planet in equilibrium.

Let's try winning and see what it feels like. If we don't like it, we can go back to our traditions.

No one is immune from the larger events of his or her time- the Depression, World War II, civil rights, Vietnam, the spring of 1989 in China. These events intrude upon our lives and radically affect our directions.

Nobody on his death bed ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'

Seven and half years ago I began my own journey. For me and my family it was a time of adversity. But during that adversity I derived a deeper faith. And born out of that adversity was a commitment to devote myself to those people and to those issues that truly matter to me.

That sense of sacredness, that thinking in generations, must begin with reverence for this earth.

That's a good question. Let me try to evade you.

Thinking in generations also means enabling our young to have a decent standard of living.

This land, this water, this air, this planet- this is our legacy to our young.

Two hundred years ago, our Founding Fathers gave us a democracy. It was based upon the simple, yet noble, idea that government derives its validity from the consent of the governed.

We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead to our children and their children. And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.

You are part of that horrid expression, the best and the brightest. It can be a terrible burden if you let it be, but it is the great challenge of your time. And being a warrior in that challenge should be wondrous.

You cannot be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time. You cannot love employment and hate employers.


(January 18 is also the birthday of A.A. Milne and Daniel Webster.)

Categories: Paul Tsongas, Quotes of the day


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