Those who’ve followed Washington’s film career and personal ups and downs, struggles and triumphs see him as a rarity on and off the screen. Listening to him talk, it becomes easy to say “we” (not just Hollywood but a nation spiraling in ruin) need more like him.
His speeches were made in 2011 and 2015 and followed the same theme. After reading them, I can’t help but wonder if he’d be given the chance to repeat his words today.
He wanted to motivate young graduates to strive to make a difference in the world and he used four main points to support his belief.
“Put God first, fail big, achieve and be disciplined,” he said. Through his career and life’s endeavors, Washington told his audience that they should put God first in everything they do. And any success he’s had comes through the grace of God.
I can easily picture Washington as a young man who won a Best Supporting Actor for the role he played in the great Civil War movie, “Glory.” It was based on a true story, made in 1989, and if you care to watch it, grab on to your heartstrings.
Denzel was young then. Now he’s in his late 60s. He’s still vibrant and able to share the wisdom he’s been blessed with through the years. Gratitude and thankfulness rarely stray far from his heart.
His two college speeches have much to do with maintaining the passion to overcome failure. “If you don’t fail . . . you’re not even trying. To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
He continued, “The chances you take . . . the people you meet . . . the people you love . . . the faith you have, this is what’s going to define your life.”
He advised the graduates to, “Say thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for your parents, thank you for love, thank you for kindness, thank you for humility, thank you for peace, thank you for prosperity.
“Say thank you in advance for what you already have.”
He went on to say that true desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you, sent beforehand to indicate that it’s already yours.
In closing, he said, “Anything you want, you can have. So claim it. Work hard to get it. When you get it, reach back and pull someone else up.
“Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”
Ted “Spud” Buss is a former TRN sports and business editor