Commencement speakers are supposed to urge you to rise to the highest challenge, pursue the impossible dream, excel at the loftiest ambitions. I will not do that. It is too easy, and too empty. The easiest thing to do is to support great causes, sign stirring petitions, endorse grand philosophies. The hardest thing to do – and it is getting harder all of the time – is to be a good husband or wife, a strong father or mother, an honorable friend and neighbor.
The truly good deeds are the small, everyday actions of ordinary life. The employee who gives an honest day’s work; the employer who rewards loyalty and service; the stranger who stops to help someone in need; the craftsman who builds each house as if he himself were going to live in it; the man who unhesitatingly accepts responsibility for the children he has fathered; the father who wants the respect of his children more than admission to the executive suite; the mother who knows that to care for an infant is not an admission of professional failure; the parents who turn the television off even when their children want to watch just one more hour of some bit of Hollywood drive; the neighbors who join together to patrol a neighborhood threatened by drug dealers; the hiker who carries his own trash out of the park; the landlord who paints out the graffiti without waiting for the city authorities; the juror who judges another on the basis of the principle of personal responsibility before the law. These are the heroes of daily life. May you join their ranks. — James Q. Wilson, “The Moral Life,” Brigham Young Magazine, August 1994, p. 55 [BYU’s April Commencement Address excerpt]
There are hidden heroines and heroes among the Latter-day Saints – “those of the last wagon” whose fidelity to duty and devotion to righteousness go unnoticed by anyone except the One whose notice really matters. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, November 1989, p. 65