The Goods to Lead
John Judge ’89 delivered the Commencement address to the Class of 2022 on Sunday, May 22. He shared three main ideas with the more than 500 graduates and their families— imploring them to find everyday ways to unplug from technology and spend time in the natural world, encouraging graduates to integrate ecological values into their careers, and emphasizing the need to care for their mental health. Here, we share four key excerpts from his speech.
What is part of our DNA? Every living creature on this glorious planet. From trees to honey bees. And of course, everyone sitting around you. We’re completely reliant on each other. There’s a beautiful quote from Chief Seattle, delivered way back in 1854, about the environment. He said, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
We also know that not everyone in this crowd will pursue a career in environmental law, or geoscience or clean car engineering. But when you choose your next job, or your next career, find an employer who prioritizes the natural world. If you want to be a portfolio advisor, choose a firm that focuses on impact investing. If you’re a graphic designer, use your creative gifts to get folks to steward the outdoors. If you’re entering biotech, go with one of the many companies doing amazing things to reduce toxic pollutants or in finding clean alternatives to petroleum-based products. Or if you’re a writer, advocate for green space for everybody or spur on our elected officials for the cause of nature. Whatever you do for the natural world, think of it as opening an individual retirement account, or IRA, for the Earth. Whatever your monthly contributions, large or small, they will pay real dividends over time—for you and the planet. I promise you, it’ll be the most rewarding IRA you’ll ever open.
I don’t need to tell you that we’re in the middle of a mental health crisis. You’ve lived it. You are living it. It really has been the pandemic on top of the pandemic. Luckily, nature is the cheapest therapy out there. There’s actually hard science behind this. There’s literally a bacteria found in soil that acts as an antidepressant when humans inhale it while gardening or being outdoors. Another study just came out that said living in an area with more green spaces reduces your depression. At The Trustees, we saw our membership skyrocket during the pandemic because people were so desperate for that outdoor dopamine hit.
Unplug from technology and get outdoors, incorporate the stewardship of nature in your career and prioritize mental health, including getting time spent outside. Love and compassion for our planet, for our humanity and for yourself are necessities. Stonehill has given you the space to lead with love and compassion. And you have the goods to lead. It fills me with hope that you are the generation to move us forward, enact meaningful change and lead with courage.