“Rediscovering the Meaning of Freedom”: The Rector’s Commencement Address

This year, as is traditional, the ITI Commencement Exercises were crowned with the Rector’s Address - delivered above all to our dear graduates. In his address, Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau reflected on the question of freedom. He desires for our graduates to take with them a balanced understanding of freedom and thus accurate practice of freedom in their own lives, as they leave ITI and will open a new page in their lives.

According to Dr. Geusau, the modern world illustrates two tendencies when it comes to understanding freedom: either rendering it limitless in the name of choice or suppressing it in the name of safety. It is possible to gain a true understanding of what freedom is, says the Rector, by ‘freeing the mind and opening it up for the life-long tasks of humbly discovering what it means to be human,’ by learning ‘what reality is, instead of forcibly bending it to our own will.’ This, emphasized Dr. Geusau, is exactly what true education is about and what the ITI genuinely provides to its students.

 ‘Freedom, however, goes always hand in hand with responsibility’, the Rector continued. This means in practice that ‘freedom is above all an inner state, an inner disposition towards the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves; not ignoring one in favor of the other, but finding balance and, even more importantly, not forgetting that the freedom we have comes from our Creator.’

Going further in his address, the Rector invited the graduates ‘to be heroic in their willingness to live by example and lead by practice in a terribly confused and messy world, to show others what it truly means to be free men and women.’ He desires that ‘the timeless wisdom of the Church will be their guide and strength, despite the loud and noisy voices of the world telling them otherwise.’

In his address, Dr. Geusau came to the conclusion that true freedom means, first of all, taking responsibility for our own lives and the lives of those entrusted to us, whether it is family, friends, community or country. It means ‘to exercise the virtue of leadership, to make a choice of leading in taking responsibility, overcoming victimhood, and rejecting indifference, and most importantly to follow Christ radically.’ And this is what he hopes our graduates will do.