The 2008 commencement address given at Southwestern University was selected to be the “Speech of the Month” in the July issue of “Vital Speeches of the Day.”

“Vital Speeches of the Day” has been published since 1934 to give its subscribers “the

best thoughts of the best minds on current national issues.”

The speech was given by James Winkler, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society for the United Methodist Church. In the speech, Winkler told graduates he wanted them to “shake the gates of hell.”

“Frankly, we’re counting on your generation to be the one that turns things around,” Winkler said. “You do not have the luxury of ignoring problems and difficulties in order to follow your bliss.”

Winkler said President Bush was right when he said there is an axis of evil, but he was wrong when he said it is Iran, Iraq and North Korea. “The true axis of evil is pandemic poverty, environmental degradation and a world awash in weapons,” Winkler said. “This triplet has caused enormous suffering and pain.”

Winkler said achieving goals such as eradicating poverty and hunger, providing universal primary education, and combating diseases such as HIV/AIDS would be the “best anti-terrorism campaign around.”

“We can’t build enough guns, tanks and war planes to stop the anger and frustration that leads to terrorism, but I do know we now have the capacity to re-shape the world so that a good and decent life is enjoyed by all of God’s children,” he said.

Tom Daly IV, editor of “Vital Speeches of the Day”, said that out of the 120 commencement speeches he read for possible inclusion in their July issue, Winkler’s was “one of the best.”

To read the full text of Winkler’s address, go to

Or, to view it online, go to