Saturday, March 26, 2011

To the class of 2010

With the passing of another year you can take the time to think about how far you have come as students and individuals.  And, understandably you are probably wondering where you will fit in as part of our society.  You have a lot to be proud of.  I could write about all the challenges facing your generation but you know them.  The media has been filling your head with it since you were babies.  You will handle it.  It’s the progress that you have made that puts you far ahead of your predecessors in terms of attitude, acceptance and life outlook.  Commencements afford us a brief moment to examine what you have accomplished.
Your generation has earned your diploma not just because of what you learned but what you taught the rest of us.  You taught us that it is not too late to make the changes that will save our planet. As long as you are alive it’s never too late. You taught us that living in fear is NOT living.  Fear exists in all of us but it does not define us.  You thanked a veteran and you questioned war. Your generation has little use for the word “Normal”.  Normal is only useful when it pertains to health.  Your body should have a “normal” temperature of 98.6, and sure, you should have blood pressure with the “normal” range.  But that is where it ends. It is you who taught us that uniqueness makes us creative, inspired, and ultimately powerful.
 For these lessons I thank you.  And perhaps you can indulge me as I impart some lessons that I have learned.

  • Maintain good credit.  One of the greatest gifts you have been given, as a child of the free world, is the ability to make positive change for yourself based on little more than your past ability to pay for the things you bought.
  • Learn all you can about our country’s past and take an interest in our government. Maybe that means running for office, reading more, or just watching CSPAN every now and then.
  • Use spell check
  • Don’t listen to those who tell you we lost our way.
  • Be generous with your time.  Giving money is nice.  It takes only seconds to write a check.  But some of my most valuable life lessons came while volunteering.
  • Accept who you are.  You are the only one living your life.
  • When in a meeting listen, don’t just wait for your turn to talk.  Keep in mind some of the best ideas have come from unlikely places.
  • Much of our fear and ignorance comes from our parents.  Reject it. It will set you free.  But do not blame or resent your parents for that fear.  They were just doing the best they could.  You mean everything to them.
As you land that first job and begin building a career, many of you will begin to consider starting a family.  When that time comes, understand the power you have in shaping your Children’s perspective.  Teach them tolerance. Teach them to educate themselves on a subject before making snap judgments.  Let them know that God does not care whether you work on Wall Street or build walls or whether make your living turning a wrench or turning a phrase.  Let them know that nothing in the schoolyard that is relevant later on. So it does not matter if you are great at doge ball or you throw like a girl or dress like one.  Help them understand it’s not important whom you fall in love with. What is important is that you have love to give in the first place.  Love is not a zero sum, it is paradoxical in fact, because the more you give away the more you have.
So continue to astound us. Go out there and live, love, earn, make mistakes and leave this world a more, selfless and compassionate place then the one you entered.
By Stacy Hathaway

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