In the above speech, which is long but worth the time, Obama appeals to graduating seniors to embrace public service. He asks them directly, personally, to forego the fruits of our “money culture.” And he draws on a classic Second Great Awakening formulation: individual salvation hinges on good works; community salvation rests on individuals sacrificing for the greater good. Even after seven years of kleptocracy, this speech makes me think that civic virtue might not be dead after all. That’s the audacity of hope talking, I know. I’ll get over it soon enough.

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