Oprah nailed why dishonesty has eroded our nation. But she gave us hope too.

Oprah gave a commencement speech at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and her words were everything we need right now.

I don't know how, but Oprah always seems to be able to diagnose what's ailing America and offer us a prescription to dull the pain — one that somehow isn't too hard to swallow.

Am I suggesting she run for president? No. But this speech did a lot to convince me she'd make a pretty kickass leader of the free world.


I'm a middle-aged adult, and I got as much out of this speech as any 20-something did, guaranteed. These are life lessons for us all, young and old, rich and poor, citizen or statesman.

I recommend watching the whole speech, but here are some of the highlights.

Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

The bad news and the good news: Everything sucks right now, but we can fix it.

Oprah began by pulling no punches about our current reality.

"Everything around us — including and in particular the internet and social media — is now being used to erode trust in our institutions, interfere in our elections, and wreak havoc on our infrastructure," she said. "It hands advertisers a map to our deepest desires, it enables misinformation to run rampant, attention spans to run short, and false stories from phony sites to run circles around major news outlets."

Welp. That about covers that.

Then she offered up the good news. "The solution is each and every one of you. Because you will become the new editorial gatekeepers, an ambitious army of truth-seekers who will arm yourselves with the intelligence, with the insight and the facts necessary to strike down deceit."

Yes! Yay, real journalism!

Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

Then she addressed the way we interact with one another and how we can respond to this moment.

"This is what I know: The problem is everybody is meeting hysteria with more hysteria, and then we just are all becoming hysterical," she said, going on to say we must avoid getting "locked in" to a cycle of trying to resist in ways that don't work.

And how are we supposed to do that, Oprah?

"We're supposed to see through it and then transcend it. That is how you overcome hysteria," she said. "... Use this moment to encourage you, to embolden you, and to literally push you into the rising of your life."

Of course, even Oprah knows that's not always easy.

"I understand how it's so easy to become disillusioned," she said, "so tempting to allow apathy to set in because anxiety is being broadcast on 157 channels, 24 hours a day, all night long. And everybody I know is feeling it."

Nonetheless, she encouraged the audience to remain strong.

"These times are here to let us know that we need to take a stand for our right to have hope, and we need to take a stand with every ounce of wit and courage we can muster."

Finally, she laid down some big truth about truth.

"Here's what you have to do," she said. "You make the choice every day, every single day, to exemplify honesty. Because the truth — let me tell you something about the truth — the truth exonerates and it convicts. It disinfects, and it galvanizes. The truth has always been and will always be our shield against corruption, our shield against greed and despair. The truth is our saving grace."

OMG. I love truth. And I love Oprah. It's basically a tie.

Watch the full speech — seriously, watch it! — below:

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.