Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr wished bad luck upon school graduates in dispensing some graduation advice that might have taken many by surprise.
Speaking at a ninth grade commencement address at an elite school attended by his son, the speech was described by the Washington Post as “personal, understated and popular probably because it touched on universal themes.”
As the Post report said, Roberts delivered eight opinions and two dissents this most recent term, but “none probably meant as much” as the speech he made to the young students who were better experience challenge rather than success.
“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted.
“I wish you bad luck—again, from time to time—so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.
“And when you lose, as you will, from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure as a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others. And I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.”
The speech was well received by both the attentive students and by the national media and others.
A Los Angeles Times article sees Roberts’ speech as a counterweight to President Donald Trump’s acerbic tweeting. “Without mentioning the president,” the article says, “Roberts extols virtues Trump conspicuously lacks.”