From the commencement address given by Garry Kasparov, the Russian opposition figure and former world chess champion, at Saint Louis University, May 16:
Every day we make choices large or small: individuals, companies, entire nations. Are those choices guided by the values we treasure? Are we loyal to the principles of individual freedom, of faith, of excellence, of compassion, of the value of human life? Or do we trade them away, bit by bit, for material goods, for a quiet life, and to pass the problems of today on to the next generation?
These moral values are also the values of innovation and the free market, by the way. It is no coincidence that these founding American values created the greatest democracy in the world and also the greatest economy in the world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his believers to be a “City on a Hill,” a shining example to the world, a phrase used to describe America by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I saw that America from the other side of the Iron Curtain and I can tell you that it mattered. And it matters still.
If America is to continue as a “light of the world” it will be up to you and to your generation to hold fast to these values and not to trade them away for a safe and stagnant status quo. Risk is not only for entrepreneurs. Risk is for anyone who will fight for these values in their lives and in the world every day.