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President Bill Clinton on the hard hand graduates were dealt: 'You can play it well'

Former President Bill Clinton addressed the class of 2020 to share his congratulatory remarks, guidance, and reassurance amid an unprecedented backdrop.

“I have great faith in the near future,” Clinton said. “I know you've been dealt a hard hand. But you can play it well.”

The 42nd commander in chief of the United States of America offered words of inspiration and hope for graduates during Verizon’s Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement series. (Verizon is Cashay’s parent company.)

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Acknowledging the country’s inflection point, the president spoke of the pandemic that’s claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans and more the world over; civil unrest; and high unemployment as just a few of the issues weighing on the nation.

Calling young people “vanguards of change,” he said that recent events have “only revealed more starkly how little we really know about each other, and how very much we have to learn, he said. “The good news: You can learn more quickly. You can act together, more than any generation before.”

‘The unexamined life is not worth living’

Clinton quoted Socrates and said the Greek philosopher was “on to something” when he said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

He said that now is the time to “examine our own lives and the lives of our country and the trends of the world. And we have to ask ourselves: ‘Who are we really?’”

To his point, it’s through thorough examination that the nation can address its ideals and asses commonalities, instead of the “divisive tribalism” that pulls people away from who are different from them.

‘You can change the world for the better’

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrives at Saint Sulpice church in Paris, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrives at Saint Sulpice church in Paris, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Heralding the young people who march for Black Lives Matter, the students from Parkland and Chicago who want gun reform, the Dreamers who demand a chance, Clinton applauded every member of Gen Z who is using their voices to be an agent of change.

“No matter how hopeless you may feel, or frustrated or angry,” he said, “you can change the world for the better because you can.”

The path and the fight won’t be easy, he warned. There will be mistakes, hurdles, and disappointments, but the president reminded the graduates that their own fulfillment and happiness will ultimately be found when they serve and dignify others and lift them up.

“You have to remind yourself every single day of what you do not know,” Clinton said. “And what you do believe.”

Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.
Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.

Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement address series included speakers Hugh Evans, Kevin Love, Katie Sowers, William P. Lauder, and Hans Vestberg. It will be reaired on Yahoo Finance Fios.

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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