Commencement Speeches: The Best Of

Sheryl Sandberg at UC Berkeley Steve Jobs at Stanford University: John F. Kennedy at American University: J.K. Rowling at Harvard University: Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane University: Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College: Oprah at Spellman College: Denzel Washington University of Pennsylvania:

COMMENTARY 985.1: Making Lives

A few years ago I came across a video by a very dynamic speaker, a former middle school teacher named Taylor Mali. He is now what’s called a performance poet — someone who delivers poetry as singers deliver songs. The poem that caught my attention was “What Do I Make?” an articulate and aggressive response to a critic who was putting down teachers. …


COMMENTARY 975.4: A Parent’s Love for the Family Treasure

There are all kinds of love. The passionate romantic love immortalized and often fantasized by poets and novelists; Platonic love among friends, the love of humanity preached by missionaries and ministers, the love of country, and even the love of our work. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced all of these forms but none has impressed me more than the deep, enduring …


COMMENTARY 972.3: Acts of Kindness and Two Sets of Proud Parents

I received an email with a story worth sharing. Only the names have been changed to preserve privacy. Doug is the proud and loving father of Emma, a high school junior who takes a leadership class responsible for putting on dances and other student events. All student body officers must take the class, but a number of other kids like …

MLK civil rights hoses

COMMENTARY 969.1: Remembering the Civil Rights Movement

I grew up in the 1960’s and remember the tumultuous times in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his historic mark on American society. Dr. King was always one of my heroes. So I was delighted a few years ago when I was asked to deliver an address about his legacy. I wasn’t ready, however, for the range and depth of …

COMMENTARY 965.1: Keeping Christmas

Whether you are a Christian or not, Henry Van Dyke‘s concept of “Keeping Christmas,” written in 1905, is worth reading and following: It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere making of times and seasons when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the …

a MJ photo

A Personal Note from Michael

As I celebrate my 73rd revolution around the sun (December 10) I am immensely grateful, not only to still be alive, but because the Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS!  program have emerged from our most challenging year ever poised to reach new levels of impact on the character of our kids and the ethical quality of the country. There …

COMMENTARY 959.2: Converting Pessimists Into Optimists

Every full life has its bright days and its dark days, its triumphs and defeats, its calm and stormy seas. All these high and low experiences could justify viewing the past through the lens of gratitude or disappointment. And the way we characterize our history will determine whether we look toward our future with hopeful expectations or anxious trepidation. Scientists …

COMMENTARY 948.2: Competition in the Arts

Competition often brings out the best performance but it doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Even in the arts, actors, singers, dancers, and musicians must survive and thrive in a competitive community as rude and rough as any. Ambitious parents often introduce toxic gamesmanship and back-biting attitudes very early as their children are judged and ranked by the …

New York City Skyline - World Trade Center


Nine-Eleven. Two Numbers which took on new meaning on September 11, 2001. Since then, these numbers together have become a phrase that will forever be a prominent turning point event in American history.There is a natural tendency to repress painful lessons and the grief we experienced, yet we must not forget or fail to educate our children about what we …

COMMENTARY 946.2: The Ultimate Solution to Bullying in Schools: A Student-Led Culture of Kindness

Olivia Gardner was a sixth grader in Northern California when her life began to unravel. It started when she suffered an epileptic seizure in front of her classmates. Immediately, the name-calling began. The hallway insults and ridicule — “freak,” “retard,” “weirdo” — escalated into cyber-bullying when a few particularly nasty students set up an “Olivia Haters” website. One student dragged …

[VIDEO] Michael Josephson Interviewed on L.A.’s NBC News

In this interview with NBC4’s Conan Nolan, Michael Josephson looks back at 2014. Among the issues discussed: torture and the CIA, Bill Cosby, Ferguson and the NFL. As always, we welcome your response. Please post a comment below.

CHRISTMAS & CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: Greatest Quotations on Christmas and the Christmas Spirit – compiled by Michael Josephson

We are glad you visited us to find this selection quotes on mothers and motherhood. The Josephson Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing the ethical quality of individual and personal decision making.  I hope you’ll browse our other entries and subscribe to our What Will Matter blog at (it’s free) and/or our What Will Matter Facebook I …

4th of July Essense of America

The Efficacy and Morality of Brutal Interrogations and Use of Deadly Force

PAY ATTENTION! TAKE A POSITION! SPEAK UP! I believe we are at a moral crossroad. And we must think carefully before we decide which road to take. Since out founding the values of America were embodies in grand and lofty documents including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, especially the Preamble and the Bill of Rights.All of us who …

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If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. – Nora Roberts THERE IS NO SUCCESS WITHOUT ACTION.  

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How to live your life

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The road you take matters.

Where you go in life and whether you enjoy the trip will be determined by your choices, not your circumstances. In your work life and your personal life you will face choices not merely on what to do but on how you will react or respond to things other did. Life’s turning points are not marked and they are not …

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Don’t look so hard at my past. I don’t live there anymore

Some people will always see us as we were rather than who we are and more importantly who we are becoming. Some people see themselves as they were, not who they are, and more importantly, who they are becoming and who they can become. Some people live in their past, others are content to learn from it. Aging is inevitable; …

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There are over 300,000 more black men in college than in prison, but you wouldn’t know this watching cable or network news? How come?

In the decade from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students increased by 53 percent, and the number awarded to Hispanic students increased by 87 percent. In 2009–10, Black students earned 10 percent and Hispanics earned 9 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred, versus the 9 and 6 percent, respectively, earned in 1999–2000” (NCES, 2012).

1968 Kerner Report

Historical Context for What is Going on in Ferguson and New York City: The Kerner Report

The summers of 1964-1967 were marked by civil disorders, rioting and looting in African-American neighborhoods of major cities including Los Angeles (Watts Riot of 1965), Chicago (Division Street Riots of 1966), Newark (1967 Newark riots) and Detroit (1967 Detroit Riots) In all, these disorders resulted in millions of dollars of damage[1] and the loss of 83 lives. In response, President Lyndon Johnson …