You have to learn to be good ancestors to the future

An excerpt from a 2006 commencement speech by the historian Vartan Gregorian, who died this week.

From a 2006 Stanford University commencement address by Vartan Gregorian, who died this week at 87. Hat tip to speechwriter Harry Kruglik for passing it along. —DM

Today information floods over us, and a millisecond later in comes another flood of data and information, and then another and another. Images of pleasure and pain, fear and joy, love and hate assault us from all the angles. The world around us is full of raucous chatter and noise. Amid all this cacophony, it’s hard to see ourselves as part of a larger whole, a continuing eternal harmony, that music of the spheres that the ancients thought we would hear only in our inner ear. Well, today I would like to remind you of your connection to history. Try to listen with your inner ears to those who went before you, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and on and on, who all wanted to be good ancestors to you.

As an historian, educator and a fellow student, I feel bound to remind you that the time has come for you to return the favor. You have to learn to be good ancestors to the future.

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