The United States has a unique opportunity to shape the world to be more compatible with the values that have guided this country for 200 years, Brigham Young University graduates were told Thursday.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to shape the new world order now possible with the demise of the Cold War will require constant attention, effort and some sacrifice, Gen. Brent Scowcroft told graduates at BYU's spring commencement. Scowcroft, an Ogden native, is President Bush's national security adviser."Our decisions over the next few years will set the course," Scowcroft said.
"Hopefully, we will as a country determine that we do not need, yet again, a threat directly on our doorstep to remind us that the world is still a dangerous place that requires our constant attention."
A record 16,070 people filled the Marriott Center for the university's 116th spring graduation ceremony.
The ceremony was conducted by President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and first vice chairman of the executive committee of the university's board of trustees. Also attending was President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the church's First Presidency and a vice chairman of the school's board of trustees.
President Hinckley recounted the great technological and scientific developments that have peppered history since his own graduation 60 years ago."I am convinced that you in today's graduating class are on the threshold of an even more remarkable era of great discovery and application in the 60 years that may lie ahead of you," President Hinckley said.
But this era is also fraught with problems such as poverty, homelessness, family instability and terrible diseases.
"We've all come to realize that secular knowledge alone will not save us," President Hinckley said. "There must be a process by which we as individuals can retain within ourselves the wisdom of the divine as well as the learning of the world."
He challenged the graduates to seek the strength of heaven in their efforts to improve the world as men and women of talent, training and faith.
BYU President Rex E. Lee presented Scowcroft with an honorary doctorate of public service for his commitment to education, his efforts in the cause of peace through service to his country and his brilliance as an analyst and adviser to U.S. presidents.
During his address, Scowcroft warned against hastily scaling back military might, saying that U.S. history is replete with examples of succumbing to a false sense of security and then having to rebuild military force at great expense.
Beyond questions about U.S. security, however, is the recognition that the interdependence of world systems is such that the domestic well-being of the American people can not be separated from the impact of political and economic developments abroad, Scowcroft said.
"Democracy is on the march in many regions - Latin America, Africa, Asia. We can take great satisfaction in that, but democracy is a fragile flower. It will not automatically thrive in the hard soil of many areas where it has now taken root."
The United States has neither the inclination or the ability to act as the world's police force, but can mobilize and lead the world community against acts of international aggression and lawlessness that affect political, security and economic systems, Scowcroft said.
In his remarks Lee, using an analogy about maneuvering a houseboat on Lake Powell, told graduates that the best way to weather the winds of life is to "keep your anchors solid and your motors running."
By tethering their lives to the "rocks" provided by the fundamental principles of their religion, graduates will be protected against life's storms, Lee said.
Graduates will achieve the greatest success by steering toward goals with both "engines" - spiritual and intellectual - running.
"Unlike the engines located at the rear of my houseboat, yours do not wear out with use. They work best when you keep both of them operating all of the time," Lee said. "It will be just as important to you in the coming years as it has been here at BYU to continue to seek learning."
He counseled graduates to lean on others when gale forces blow and to remember that life's storms are fairly transient.
Student speaker Marilyn Higbee, an honors in history graduate, said: "We do not need to all be Mother Theresas in order to improve the world. We do not need to leave our homes and abandon our professions in order to accomplish something meaningful. We do not need to imitate Mother Theresa, but we most certainly must emulate her in her attitude of service."
Brigham Young University awarded 3,345 degrees in its spring commencement Thursday. In addition, 1,417 students who completed course work in December 1991 received degrees.
- 58.4 percent of the graduates are men, 41.6 are women.
- The average age of bachelor's degree recipients is 25; master's degree, 301/2; and doctorate degrees, 39.
- Daniel E. Witte, 19, who received a bachelor's degree in geography, is the youngest graduate.
- Glenna S. Peterson, 64, who received a bachelor's degree in elementary education, is the oldest graduate.
- Graduates represent 49 states, the District of Columbia and 50 foreign countries. Most graduates, 31 percent, are from Utah, followed by California, 16 percent, and Idaho, 7 percent.
- The College of Family, Home and Social Sciences awarded the most degrees - 755 or 22 percent. The College of Humanities was second with 412 degrees or 12 percent. The Marriott School of Management placed third in the degree derby with 319 graduates or 10 percent.
- 59.4 percent of the graduates are married.
- The cumulative grade point average for graduates receiving bachelors degrees is 3.27.