Cory Booker To GWU Grads: Don't Be Cynical, Go Beyond Mere Tolerance

The New Jersey senator urged the Class of 2016 to push for a better world.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called on the Class of 2016 to go beyond tolerance, and strive for a "nation of love," in his address at George Washington University's graduation ceremony on Sunday.

"I'm tired of this call in our country for this idea of tolerance — that is not the aspiration," Booker said. "We have a nation right now that seems to think the greatest and highest achievement is for us to be a tolerant nation, but I say no. We're not called to be a tolerant nation. We're called to be a nation of love. What we need to do is understand that we have to love each other, that we have to see each other have worth and dignity and value."

"We are Americans one to another, but we lose thousands of our children each year because of indifference, because of apathy, because we are just tolerating one another," Booker said at another point. 

The senator also called on graduates to remain optimistic, despite what the world throws at them. 

"Don't give in to cynicism," Booker said. "It is a toxic spiritual state. You've got to be one that, wherever you are, like a flower you've got to blossom where you're planted. You cannot eliminate darkness. You cannot banish it by cursing darkness. The only way to get rid of darkness is light and to be the light yourself."

Some well-wishers took to Twitter to praise his remarks, and Booker responded:

On Saturday, Booker gave a similar speech at North Carolina Central University, where his father graduated in 1962.

"You can be like a thermometer, just reflecting the world around you," Booker told those grads. "Or you can be a thermostat, one of those people who sets the temperature. You don’t have to be one of those people that accepts things as they are. Every day, take responsibility for changing them right where you are."