‘Don’t forget that freedom is never something that can be taken for granted’: Angela Merkel

Speaking at Harvard University in 2019, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, made a powerful commencement address. “This ceremony marks the end of an intensive and probably also hard chapter in your lives. Now, the door to a new life is opening. That’s exciting and inspiring,” she said.

“I have learned that we can find good answers even to difficult questions if we always try to view the world through the eyes of others. If we respect other people’s history, traditions, religion, and identity,” she continued. “[T]ake a moment to stop. Be still. Think. Pause,” she said, adding “Granted, that certainly takes courage. Above all it calls for truthfulness in our attitude towards others.”

“Walls in people’s minds. Walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They exist between family members, as well as between groups within the society, between people of different skin colours, nations, and religions,” she said.

“Don’t forget that freedom is never something that can be taken for granted. Surprise yourself with what is possible. Remember that openness always involves risks. Letting go of the old is part of the new beginning. Above all, nothing can be taken for granted. Everything is possible. Thank you,” she stated in conclusion.