Dear Graduates of 2024,

You know you are citizens of a world where justice is not prevailing. You have known this for a long time: your school years wrought by unanswered protests against gun violence and climate negligence; your early months and years of university altered by rapidly shifting restrictions designed to maximize productivity rather than public health; your final year shadowed by a genocide in which your government, and likely your institution, is complicit.

In truth, there is no easy path forward for you to act justly, to live according to your purpose. Allying yourself with the oppressed—in Palestine, the DRC, abortion clinics, single-sex restroom debates, regions wracked by disastrous effects of human-accelerated climate change—requires sacrifice. It’s inconvenient. It often involves people who, despite sharing your morality, irritate you. It’s driven by endless phone calls, emails, Signal messages, and committee meetings. It persists in the cold, heat, rain, and snow. It’s early-morning, late-night, and drop-of-a-hat mobilizing. It can put you in physical, social, and economic danger. It’s tiring.

Or you can abdicate your responsibility to your neighbors. Over and over, when presented with every cruelty that the next fifty, sixty, seventy years brings, you can prioritize yourself alone. In a few decades, when Israel’s genocidal violence against Gaza is near-universally recognized as an egregious tear in the tapestry of humanity, you can convince yourself you always opposed injustice—just as many of our parents and grandparents do regarding the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the AIDS crisis, marriage equality, and apartheid in South Africa—all while closing your eyes to the latest barbarity.

Those in power have a vested interest in convincing you to do nothing. To turn away while they bloat their bank accounts by spending your tuition payments and your tax dollars to fund and further atrocities. They will tell you that by protesting and demanding accountability, you are diminishing your career prospects, compromising your social capital, misplacing your talents and vitality. They are not speaking in your best interests, nor on the side of justice; they merely intend to crush your spirit.

Sitting idle in the face of injustice may be appealing. It seems to promise you stability, peace, an unencumbered life. These promises are illusions. You will find no comfort in complacency. Inaction is haunting.

If I can convince you of one thing, dear graduates, let it be this: if you stand with the people of Palestine now, you won’t look back on this part of your life and think of lost opportunities or squandered potential. You’ll think: I did something. I did something of value, not just for myself, but for my peers in the Class of 2024 at Al-Aqsa University, the Islamic University of Gaza, Israa University, Al-Azhar University – Gaza—each destroyed over the past months by the Israeli occupation forces. For the 600,000+ displaced children in Gaza. For the 14.3 million Palestinians who have been oppressed in Palestine and scattered around the world for more than a hundred years. For my fellow protestors. For those who came before me, whose hearts were stirred and hope emboldened by our strength. For those who came after me, looking to our bravery as a model for enacting change in their worlds.


  1. Phil Rienstra

    hey I appreciate literally everything you write

    • Phil Rienstra

      especially these last few months


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