Excerpt From

Murray H’55 ’65 ’16 P’16 ’21

Murray spoke to the V Form.

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John Prine, who died of Coronavirus a couple of months ago, was a raspy voiced singer songwriter whose cynical bar lyrics conjured late night loneliness, unsatisfied yearning and the private tragedies of ordinary people

John Prine, who died of Coronavirus a couple of months ago, was a raspy voiced singer songwriter whose cynical bar lyrics conjured late night loneliness, unsatisfied yearning and the private tragedies of ordinary people...And yet, in the most unlikely context, with a sympathetic turn of phrase, he betrays a profound affection for humanity, especially in our most broken down in perfect state...There is simple beauty in our lives, and there can be love...

My father was a gentle, kind soul, and he believed love was very much the point of it all...And yet I do believe as my father did, that humans possess a special capacity to love, to love deeply, to love passionately, to love platonically to love desperately, to love and so many different ways. This, I believe, is distinctly human. And our ability to love carries with it great complexity.

The world at times seems composed of forces and counter forces: good and evil, Heaven and Hell, life and death. We experience and conceive of one in relation to its opposite, like Yin and Yang. Precisely because we have the capacity to love something or someone profoundly, we also experience grief and loss and powerful ways because we can lose what we treasure...

We find throughout philosophy, literature and art, endless depictions of love tributes to love quandaries inspired by love. Plato’s dialogues on the nature of love in the symposium explore physical attraction and procreation, chronic affection and various other idealized forms of human connection. It is love who empties us the spirit of estrangement and fills us with the spirit of kinship…

Let me bring this back to all of you, the graduating class of 2020. There has never been a harder time to love the world. Chris Eisgruber, president of Princeton, says of the current pandemic, “This will number among American history’s greatest upheavals.” Indeed, it is an imperfect world full of turns and deceptions, disappointment, and loss. You have lost your senior spring and your graduation, at least for now. You may have lost loved ones in recent months. We will certainly experience more of this before we come out the other side. But hear me on this. Love makes this messy life worth living, worth persisting…

Our current troubles are far from over, but there are positive glimmers on the horizon. And you have love--the love of friends, the love of family, the love of your school, the Love that awaits you out in the world. So there’s always reason to hope. We will find a way out of this. To the class of 2020: seek love in this world. You will find it, and once found, you will have it always.

Thank you very much.

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