|Hard to believe his phone didn't ring . . .|
It would seem in today's world it wouldn't be hard to get hold of someone. Between home phones, cell phones, texts, tweets, e-mails, Instagrams and countless other avenues, it should be pretty easy to connect to someone. Yet my phone hasn't rang, my tweeter hasn't chirped and as far as I know, no school has come calling to invite yours truly to speak at graduation.
Hard to believe, right?
How can any institution pass up the knowledge gained working in an industry where our end product is so versatile it can do everything from wrapping dead fish to lining bird cages? Just hard to believe.
So once again, I'll include this carefully prepared speech in a column. (Hey, I hate to work on anything for 10, maybe 15 minutes and see it go to waste!)
Welcome administrators, teachers, honored guests, parents, grandparents, yadda yadda yadda.
And welcome new men and women. Yes, that would be you folks out there in the silly hats and choir robes. See, unlike a birthday or a drivers license or being able to vote, there's no specific date when you quit being a boy and a girl and turn into a man and a woman. Actually, if you ask most of the wives in attendance, they'll probably roll their eyes at the thought of boys actually turning into men.
Men AND women aren't defined by age or a lot of silly things that society has thrown out there the last few decades. The true measure of a man and a woman lies inside each of them. It has a lot to do with their timbre and their fiber, their moral compass - words that you probably haven't heard much in school systems nowadays. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't get it. They've decided to be victims all too often. They've given up control over their own lives and allowed complete strangers who might live hundreds or even thousands of miles away to exert influence on them.
How did they do that? Simple. Someone says something and they allow themselves to react to it, to be bothered by it, to be hurt. Deeply. Personally. Emotionally. Why? I have no idea. A hundred years or so ago when I was in your place, we used to call each other names on the playground. And those who got called names would chant right back that sticks and stones may break their bones but names would never hurt them. Sometimes, gasp, it wouldn't end there. Sometimes - warning, the next sentence is intended for mature audiences only - a kid might punch or kick another kid. I know, I know, hard to believe. But an actual fight could occur. Tears might be shed. A nose bloodied or an eye blackened. Thing is, there'd be no SWAT team, no TV cameras, nothing more than some hurt feelings and maybe a bruised ego. More than likely, within a day or three those same kids would be back playing together and might even be better friends.
It's not like that anymore, is it? We're taught that words hurt; that others have power and control over us. I have no idea why if someone calls me a name I should care, but apparently that's what we're teaching today.
Men and women move past that silliness. They don't give up part of their lives to those who don't deserve such a great gift. They understand that the world has idiots and they ignore those who deserve being ignored.
Men and women have more important things to think about.
Like their jobs and futures. Men and women sometimes create families and understand the responsibility that encompasses. Some of you are going to go on to become great leaders, captains of industry, doctors, teachers. Nothing you ever do will be more important than being the mother or the father to your children, the spouse to your partner. Family is something men and women understand.
As is responsibility.
No, this isn't about adulthood and all those lectures you've gotten the last year or so about growing up - or the lack thereof. There are plenty of people out there who are adults who are not men and women. They are ad-kids - adults who are still kids. They are easily swayed and influenced by things that aren't important. They pay way too much attention to fads and trends. They lose sight of who they are and where they are going. Don't get caught in that trap.
Responsibility for men and women isn't complicated. Each of us has a core. At that core lies the most basic things we are about. Faith, family, community, honesty, character . . . depends on the person. It's not a long list though. It's not complicated either. Never is.
Look, I understand that this is a lot to take in. Yesterday you were worried about who to go to Homecoming with and now some old guy's laying this heavy message on you. Trust me, it's not a bad thing. Let's compare it to a recent experience for some of you, learning to drive. School is a lot like that. You've been taught the basics of how to drive and now the trip starts. Most of it is boring. Some of it is fun. It can be thrilling, tedious, practical or deadly. Life and driving, how you handle it is where the difference lies between adults and real women and men.
Let's look at it from another angle, Christmas morning. Think about what that morning was like 12 years ago for you. What'd you get as a 6-year-old? A fire truck? A doll? How about four years ago? What about this year? OK, now who was in that room on that morning 12 years ago? Four years ago? Who will be in that room four years from now, 12 years, 30 years? People will pass away, babies will be born; it's life. What you do in life will impact that room quite a bit for decades to come. That, in many ways, is the crux of what being a man or a woman is about; handling your responsibilities and handling them well.
It's not the silly things, the background noise that matters; it's the important things that matter.
Ok, that's it. Important things don't have to be long. Some of you will get the message, some won't. Either way, the training wheels are off. You walked in today boys and girls. How you leave is up to you.
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