Warner: Idealism, not cynicism
Photo by Dan Addison
|Gov. Mark R. Warner
By Kathleen D. Valenzi
Traditionally, undergraduate students at U.Va. do not receive their class rings until their third year of study, and the long-awaited rite of passage is marked by a special Ring Ceremony, which follows Fall Convocation.
This year’s ceremony was attended by more than 1,200 students, family members and staff, who turned out, despite the rain, not just to receive class rings but to hear Gov. Mark R. Warner deliver the keynote address.
He urged students to take their responsibilities seriously. These include, he said, personal safety, respect and tolerance for others, and upholding democracy as conceived by Jefferson and other founding fathers.
“Today, personal and partisan attacks have become the norm,” he said. Political messages “too often focus on fears versus hopes, and demonize opponents. Serious public discourse is void of content, which leads people to become distrustful and cynical. We need less crossfire and more crosstalk; we need to listen to each other.”
To that end, he challenged his listeners to “avoid cynicism” and to engage their “idealism” by tuning out the “shouting and negative messages.” Instead, he said, “sit down with someone and try to talk to them about an issue on which you disagree. Be respectful as you listen. … It’s up to you to decide where public discourse will go in the future.”