I was humbled and honored to give the East Brooklyn Community High School graduation co-commencement address along with the honorable former New York Governor, David Patterson. Here is the gist of my words to the students:
Let me first start off by thanking every one of you for inviting me, and giving me the honor and privilege to speak to you today. And let me also congratulate you on this wonderful and monumental event in your lives. I know for some of you, it wasn’t easy getting to this juncture and the fact that you are sitting here today is a testament to your strength, courage and character.
You do not know how much gratitude and appreciation I have in knowing that many of you graduates have read and enjoyed my two books ‘Street Angel’ and ‘Brooklyn Story’.
Life is worth living, if we are for-giving.
As well as congratulations, I wish you four special things: Inspiration, responsibility, confi-mility, and peace.
1. Inspiration: Inspire yourself, inspire others; put yourself into position to be inspired. Whatever it takes to be an instrument of inspiration, do it. When we ourselves are inspired, it is easier to inspire others. When people are inspired, they act more positively: there's a pronounced spring to their step and twinkle in their eye. They become fulfilled with a sense of optimism and hope. Stay inspired.
2. Responsibility: Be accountable and responsible for your actions. If you make a mistake that causes problems for others. Be accountable and accept the responsibility that it was your fault. Do not try to blame other people for your mistakes. If things do not go well in your life; if things happen that cause you to feel the world is against you, look into the mirror and do a self-reflection and realize it’s you who may be the cause of your shortcomings. Be responsible, because everything starts with you.
3. Confi-mility: Which is a combination of the words confidence and humility. Be clear that we all need a mixture of both. Confidence is essential. When we look at all the people we admire: from President Obama, to Jay Z., to Oprah Winfrey, to Michael Jordan, what they each have in abundance is supreme confidence. Intelligence gets you through the door, but confidence gets you to the next level. Confidence and self-esteem usually outshine any physical flaw that you may have. But the other side of the confidence coin is humility. The art of being humble. Not being arrogant, but being respectful towards all others and, in essence, subjugating your ego, is what maturity is really about. Arrogance and ego can bring you down just as easy as any illicit drug or insane vice.
4. Peace: In a world that seems to be getting more and more violent and destructive every day, I pray that you become beings of light and peace. To have the clarity and perception to know that it takes two to argue, two to fight, two to beef. If you do not feed into the negative karma of arguments, fighting and violence, then, trust me; your life will be a whole lot easier. And to do that, the first thing we must understand that Peace Begins Within. In closing, I will recite this short poem I wrote called, peace begins within…
Peace Begins Within
How do we find peace in a time of war?
How do we show love in a time of hate?
How do we find a way to show kindness
And not be taken for weakness?
It begins within
It begins with loving yourself into a peaceful tranquility
We are all children of God, sublime creations of our Creator
Our bodies are living temples and testaments to his plan
Once we become like our Creator
And start loving ourselves like He loves us
We begin to realize that by killing another
We are killing our self
Love is the eternal answer to the eternal question
Loving yourself permeates love for other human beings
In the angelic faces of our children, I see God
We must show them
Peace begins within.