The U.S. secretary of labor called for people to brush individualism aside on Twitter and in his Monday commencement to about 675 graduates of Oberlin College, an ultra-liberal institution of higher learning located in Oberlin, Ohio.
Perez called on graduates to adopt a “fierce urgency of now,” and pushed them toward embarking on a career in community and public service, the Lorain County Chronicle-Telegram reports.
“When I meet people in all the jobs I’ve had the privilege of doing, I see that the need is so palpable,” said Perez. “They can’t afford to wait for tomorrow because they’re struggling today.”
Perez asked graduates of the $48,000-a-year school to put community values ahead of individualism, the Chronicle-Herald reports.
He also asked them to avoid “ideological echo chambers” and to fill in “opportunity gaps,” saying “Whether you’re in Zambia or whether you’re in Zanesville, people need your help.”
Perez was appointed to the top Labor spot in July. Before that he was the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.
He put a finer point on his message in a tweet sent after Monday’s ceremony.
— Tom Perez (@LaborSec) May 26, 2014
“Selfie culture” refers to a recent trend in which users of social networking websites take pictures of themselves and post them online. Ironically, at a Memorial Day event, Vice President Joe Biden took one of the self-snapped photos of himself crouching in front of a group of soldiers.
And earlier this year, President Barack Obama also took part in a selfie with Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
“Thomas Perez has worked tirelessly to promote social justice, equality and fairness for all Americans,” Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov said, according to the Chronicle-Telegram.
Perez’s remarks were fitting for the school, which prides itself on being an outpost of progressive thought.
Earlier this year, the college drew attention after a policy proposal titled “Guidelines for Inclusion and Respectful Treatment of Intercollegiate Transgender Student Athletes” was revealed.
The guidelines suggested that students avoid using the words “ladies” or “gentlemen” when greeting a group of people. It also suggested replacing singular pronouns like she, her, hers, he, her and hers with plural equivalents they, them and theirs. (RELATED: Oberlin Considers Gender Pronoun Ban, Transgender Training)
The words echo those of his boss, the president.
“But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action,” Obama said in his 2013 inaugural address.