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Twelve Virtues To Live By

 Twelve Virtues To Live ByBen Franklin’s insights on life offer a valuable guide to life after Tufts, Walter Isaacson told graduates in his keynote address at Tufts.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.23.04] "Learning doesn't begin or end in college," Walter Isaacson told Tufts' Class of 2004 during his keynote commencement address on Sunday. Sharing virtues from Ben Franklin's life - the subject of Isaacson's best-selling biography "Ben Franklin - An American Life" - the author and former media executive urged graduates to live usefully, take responsibility and remember their roots as they begin the next phase in their lives.

"Tufts graduating students got more than a droll lecture on Ben Franklin from former TIME managing editor and best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson," reported the Boston Globe. "They got a speech on how our first diplomat succeeded to use humility to the country's advantage."

Isaacson - now head of the international relations think tank the Aspen Institute - delivered a strong message to the 2,077 members of the graduating class, who were joined by Tufts faculty, staff, alumni and friends on Sunday.

"Be willing to engage in a war of ideas," Isaacson told the Tufts audience. "But seek to find common ground with those who disagree with you."

He also urged graduates to "Hold true to the humility that is expressed through tolerance and be uncompromising only when confronting those who would show no such tolerance."

Isaacson criticized current United States leaders for their lack of humility when creating foreign policy. "We are losing the war of ideals and the war of values around the world," he told the audience.
Isaacson - who delivered his address after receiving an honorary degree from Tufts - stressed the need for humility in U.S. diplomacy.

"I do wish we could learn a little from old Dr. Franklin and at least fake a little humility, give the appearance of humility, and listen to our allies," he added.

It was one of 12 lessons from Franklin that Isaacson offered. Others included taking responsibility for one's actions, acknowledging one can be wrong, and knowing when to compromise.

Graduating senior Alex Bailey called the speech "phenomenal."

"He said a lot of things that were based in history but still apply to our lives," Bailey told the Globe. "I think a little more humility would certainly be helpful."

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