- By Kathryn Armstrong
- BBC News
Actor Tom Hanks told graduates of Harvard University in the United States that “the truth is sacred” and urged them to fight for it.
The two-time Oscar winner was the keynote speaker at the prestigious institution’s opening ceremony for graduate students.
He himself received an honorary degree in arts.
“For some, the truth is no longer empirical,” he told an audience of more than 9,000 people.
“It’s no longer based on data, or common sense, or even common decency.”
Telling the truth is no longer the benchmark of public service, he said.
“Truth is now seen as malleable, by opinion, by zero-sum endgames.”
Hanks also told graduates they had a choice to be one of “one of three types of Americans, those who embrace freedom and freedom for all, those who won’t, or those who are indifferent”.
But he said the responsibility for upholding the truth belongs to everyone.
“Effort is optional. But truth, truth is sacred. Unalterable. Chiseled in stone and the foundation of our republic.”
The 66-year-old’s speech was not without lighter moments as he joked about his lack of college degrees.
“I don’t know much about Latin, I don’t have a real passion for enzymes, and global public policy is something I scan in the paper just before I do the Wordle,” he said. , referring to the popular web game.
Hanks asked graduates not to be “embittered” that he was graduating “without having done a single assignment, without having spent any time in class, without even entering that library once”.
But he made a “very good living playing someone who did it,” he added, referring to fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon, whom he played in The Da Vinci Code movies. , Angels & Demons and Inferno.
“It’s the way of the world, kids,” he said as his audience laughed.
Hanks, who was one of six people to receive honorary degrees on Thursday, also received a Harvard volleyball in reference to one of his best-known roles in the movie Cast Away.