Love. It’s not the typical message of a commencement speech, but TFAS Regent Chris Ullman demonstrated how love can serve as the foundation for all of life’s successes and solutions during the TFAS D.C. Summer Programs Closing Ceremony on Aug. 1, 2019.
The point of thoughtful discourse is to share, to learn and to solve problems, not to score points. As a society, we need to get away from the poking and embrace the loving.” – Chris Ullman
Love can “make you a better friend, a better spouse, a better citizen, a better human,” Ullman told the students. It’s “something that will help you be a part of the solution as we live our lives as individuals and as part of a community.”
Ullman, a four-time national and international whistling champion and founder of Ullman Communications LLC, defined love as caring about another person simply because of our shared humanity. Through personal stories, he told the students how he uses love to approach tense situations and encouraged them to do the same to help cut through today’s divisive and politically-charged society.
“Just watch the nightly news, or check out social media, and the problems – especially racial tension – seem so big, so sweeping and so intractable that one benevolent action by one person couldn’t possibly make a difference or move the needle. And that, my friends, couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.
Ullman told students that too many times people are looking to win the argument or are too quick to jump to conclusions when faced with someone who thinks, looks or grew up differently than they did.
“The point of thoughtful discourse is to share, to learn and to solve problems, not to score points,” said Ullman. “As a society, we need to get away from the poking and embrace the loving.”
As an international whistling champion and the author of “Find Your Whistle: Simple Gifts Touch Hearts and Change Lives,” Ullman encouraged students to find and share their own simple gifts as a way to spread love and make a difference. “As you build a life that enables you to be your best and to achieve your dreams, please remember the power you have to make the world a better place, one person at a time.”
When he concluded, the audience of more than 340 new TFAS graduates cheered until Ullman relented and shared his own simple gift – his award-winning whistle. “Now, go ‘Find Your Whistle’ and while you’re at it, love your neighbor,” he said.
I think it’s very popular in our modern culture to be negative – to look at the world, or look at the past and say it was better before. And by almost every margin that we measure wellbeing and progress, things are better and things are getting better. There are problems in the world, but there is real hope that we can eliminate some of those problems.” – Dr. Anne Bradley
George and Sally Mayer Fellow for Economic Education and TFAS Academic Director, Dr. Anne Bradley, also spoke at the ceremony, giving parting words of wisdom on behalf of the faculty, and joining Ullman’s call for positivity.
“I think it’s very popular in our modern culture to be negative – to look at the world, or look at the past and say it was better before,” she told students. “And by almost every margin that we measure wellbeing and progress, things are better and things are getting better. There are problems in the world, but there is real hope that we can eliminate some of those problems.”
Bradley encouraged the students to use the “economic way of thinking” to make a difference and congratulated them for dedicating their summer to the pursuit of the kind of “intellectual firepower” that can make the world a better place.
Student body leaders representing each of the D.C. Summer Program tracks provided firsthand testimony during the ceremony of how eight weeks with TFAS made a lasting impact. You can read about their remarks at TFAS.org/DCSummerStudents19
We look forward to helping our new graduates find their whistles as the continue their TFAS Journeys as members of the 42,000-strong TFAS Alumni Network.
You can watch a full video of Ullman’s remarks and the Closing Ceremony below.