AMY CHUA, AN author and professor at Yale Law School, offered this advice to her graduate students: “Everything precious in my life is something I was almost too scared to do.”

“Keep trying hard things and work in a spirit of generosity.”

Here’s a message to the Class of 2021: “After a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve somehow made it through all those grueling tests, endless essay papers, social distancing restrictions, and the stress of a national and local crisis.

“In some cases, you’ve dealt with being in a quarantine, and had to see family, relatives and friends fear the ravages of COVID-19. Many of you saw close friends and relatives die as a result of the virus. You saw people unable to work because businesses were forced to close. You saw neighbors struggle and ask for help from food banks.

“But try to think of it this way; you made history. Someday you’ll be able to tell your children and grandchildren ‘I was there for the pandemic of 2020-’21. I lived through the COVID-19 crisis. I had to forego many of the usual experiences that high school and college students traditionally go through.’

“As you now prepare to take on the world having survived those challenges, here are a few simple, basic principles that we can all apply to everyday life. Making the world a better place doesn’t have to be complicated. Remember, you’ve already faced one health crisis that no one ever anticipated.

“Go for it. Never avoid doing something because you’re afraid to fail. Everyone fails occasionally. Learn from your failures and work harder the next time.

“Don’t make excuses. If something goes wrong, don’t blame others. Start with yourself.

“Find your comparative advantage,” Chua told her students. “I believe that every one of you has a slightly different gift to offer the world. Embrace it and play to your strength.

“Reject pettiness and bitterness. It’s a waste of valuable energy. Generosity will always make everything better. It will lighten your burdens and help you see the way.

“Some of you will take on a role in solving current and future problems like disease outbreaks, climate change, gender and racial inequality, poverty and food insecurity domestically and internationally. These are not easy times. With your leadership, the world will be stronger than before.”



* * *

THE FOLLOWING piece, titled “10 Cannots,” was written in 1916, by the Rev. William Boetcker, a Presbyterian clergyman who had given up the pulpit to lecture on industrial relations. Some people have credited the article to Abraham Lincoln.

I thought this message was especially appropriate now, considering the turmoil we’ve experienced in recent years in our state Capitol and Washington. To our future political candidates on both sides, you could use the following as a proven platform for your campaign.

1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

2. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

3. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

5. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

6. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

8. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

9. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.

10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.