“An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.”
Last month former Winnipeg mayor Bill Norrie passed away at age 83. In an article in the Winnipeg Free Press the city’s present mayor Sam Katz praised Norrie for his phenomenal dedication to the city. Norrie served as the mayor for thirteen years. Although I didn’t know Bill Norrie personally I have never forgotten his commencement address in 2003 at the University of Manitoba. Our son was graduating and I made notes during Mr. Norrie’s speech because I wanted to remember his inspiring words. Bill Norrie was an honorary chancellor of the university.
“An eye for eye makes everyone blind”. Chancellor Bill Norrie used that bit of wisdom from the great Hindu spiritual teacher Mahatma Ghandi during his address to the University of Manitoba graduates just before he presented their degrees. Mr. Norrie encouraged them to join the quest for justice and peace in our world. He noted with regret the many armed conflicts around the globe. The chancellor challenged the graduates to better the world by becoming active volunteers with cutting edge views. He encouraged them to take the kind of bold actions that bring about positive change. Norrie expressed his hope that the students would work to make Winnipeg and Manitoba welcoming places. He reminded them that at the university they had enjoyed friendships and mutually beneficial learning experiences with people of many different nationalities, cultures, life styles and religions. “The University of Manitoba student body is a snapshot of the world”, he said. “I think all here should be proud to know that this university had taken the lead in building bridges between diverse communities.” Mr. Norrie’s words were a call to the graduates to make the Manitoba communities in which they would live and work places where people of varied races, ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths respected one another’s differences and were enriched by them.
Chancellor Norrie ended his remarks with a prayer written by Sir Francis Drake in 1577.
Disturb us Lord,
When we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us Lord, to dare more boldly.
Venturing on winter seas
Where storms will show your mastery.
Where losing sight of land
We shall find the stars.
What an exciting challenge to live a life where we risk much, to accomplish much, all the while trusting God to steer us towards the stars.
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