Chief Justice Roberts on Lessons Learned from Adversity
By Doug Abrams
This is a brief guest column. The guest is John G. Roberts Jr., Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Much has been written lately about “helicopter parents,” mothers and fathers who strive to shield their children from all adversity in sports and other activities. Tom Izzo, Michigan State University’s successful head basketball coach, expressed concern in a radio interview earlier this year. The recent Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee said that, “We’re creating a system that we’re never teaching a kid how to fight through [tough times].”
Last month, Chief Justice Roberts spoke at his son’s ninth grade commencement at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, New Hampshire. His text has appeared in various media outlets. Here is what the Chief Justice told the graduates about how experiencing, and learning from, adversity builds character:
“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”
The Washington Post is right: “The best thing Chief Justice Roberts wrote this term wasn’t a Supreme Court opinion.”
Sources: Chris Vannini, “Tom Izzo: We’re Creating a System Where Kids Don’t Learn to Handle Adversity,” http://coachingsearch.com/article?a=Tom-Izzo-Were-creating-a-system-where-kids-dont-learn-to-handle-adversity (Apr. 13, 2017); Katie Reilly, “’I Wish You Bad Luck.’ Read Supreme Court Justice John Roberts’ Unconventional Speech to His Son’s Graduating Class, Time, July 5, 2017; Robert Barnes, “The Best Thing Chief Justice Roberts Wrote This Term Wasn’t a Supreme Court Opinion,” Wash. Post, July 2, 2017.