Bill Clinton Tells Grads To Focus On The Future, Not On Getting Even For The Past

The 42nd president called for unity during his commencement speech.

At Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Bill Clinton urged graduates to work toward improving the quality of life for everyone around them, rather than holding onto past grudges. 

Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, avoided talking about politics or the 2016 elections during his commencement address on Saturday. Instead, he spoke about how social media has released new powers -- both positive and negative ones. 

“The last few years have seen an amazing explosion of economic, social and political empowerment," Clinton said. "They have also laid bare the power of persistent inequalities, political and social instability and identity politics based on the simple proposition that our differences are all that matter. At the root of it all is a simple, profound question: will you define yourselves and your relationship to others in positive or negative terms?"

If everyone is going to share the same future, then he said we have a responsibility to build up the positive effects. 

"There are so many people who feel that they’re losing out in the modern world because people either don’t see them, or they see them only as members of groups that they feel threatened by," Clinton continued.

Clinton said the young people pushing for immigration reform, "hoping to make their way in a country where their future is uncertain," feel this strain. The Black Lives Matter protesters feel it too, he said, as do coal miners who feel like people who want to address global warming don't care about what happens to their livelihood.

His point about emphasizing common humanity over each other's differences is at the heart of a restorative justice program at LMU: "Instead of figuring out who to punish, figure out how to repair the harm. Instead of focusing on getting even for the past, focus on how we can share the future," Clinton said. 

"Are we going to expand the definition of us and shrink the definition of them, or shall we just hunker down in the face of uncomfortable realities and just stick with our crowd?" Clinton asked. "It will be a bleaker future if you do that."

Watch Bill Clinton's full commencement address in the video below: