|2/8/2014 4:03:00 PM|
Another year, another failed attempt
Here's a riddle. What do William Conner, Peyton Manning and yours truly have in common? Apparently none of us will be speaking at any commencement ceremonies in Hamilton County this year.
Hard to believe, I know, but once again no school sent me an invitation to address their graduates and share the wisdom earned through three decades of newspapering. It's frustrating, because that huge amount wisdom could easily be boiled down to, oh, say a 5 to 7 minute speech. Hey, at the graduations I've attended in the last few years, a speech of that length would be seriously welcomed.
You'd think I'd quit writing the darn thing by now. But no one ever accused me of being a quick learner, especially Mr. McBride in math class, so here you go - it's my annual "speech" to our latest grads.
Graduates, distinguished educators, friends, relatives and those who wandered in by accident (but mostly graduates):
In your parents' or your grandparents' homes, there is probably a wall covered with family photos. You're probably on there a good bit, but so are your parents, your grandparents and other relatives. Perhaps there are great-grandparents and even some from further back? Think about that wall for a second and then we'll come back to it.
I'm going to share five things with you today that are not your typical graduation speech (then we're going to the wall). There are no "reach for the stars" lines here. No sentimental waxing about these hallowed halls you are about to leave. Nope. My thoughts to share with you today are just from an old guy who's been around the block a time or three. Like a text message, you can open or delete it. Your call.
First, the world isn't fair. Get used to it. No, I'm not some sour old guy who's negative outlook shines through. We get bent out of shape when something doesn't go our way. Everything has to be fair. Everyone has to win. We've spent the better part of 12 years teaching you that everyone deserves to be heard, everyone deserves to win. Hey, that's great. Completely unrealistic, but great. You're going to learn, some of you very quickly, that not everyone wins. That. People. Lose. That life isn't always fair. Some of you will use that as your excuse for failing. Don't. Use it as motivation to get better, to stand tall. Think Peyton Manning was happy when Little Jimmy Irsay told him to take a hike, well, actually not to take anymore hikes here? Not a chance. Sure, he said all the right things, exhibited class and walked away proudly. Now, he'll do everything he can to kick Irsay's ass should they ever meet on the field.
Second, Charlie Sheen may be the world's biggest jerk, may not. Don't know. But there is nothing wrong with winning. (That's all. Lessons don't have to be long.)
Third, back in the day before instant-everything, our betters (you know them as parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, etc.) cautioned us to think before we spoke. That's never been more important or relevant than now. Whether it's a text, tweet, e-mail or just the ability to pull your phone out of your . . . pocket and immediately share whatever's on your mind, that's not necessarily a good thing. Before you react, good, bad or in between, let a little time slide by. What seemed so obvious two hours ago might seem a bit different in a week.
Fourth, political correctness is incorrect. Let's quit getting bent out of shape when someone throws up their hands and screams they're offended. Get over it.
Fifth, how soft have we gotten? My grandparents and their grandparents did not make this country great by making everything seem warm and fuzzy. They went through hard times and they learned. They endured bad things and they persevered. They suffered and they grew. The entire US of A handled rations on everything from gas to meat and countless things in between during World War II. People grew "victory" gardens so they could put entire meals on the table. Can you imagine what would happen today if people had to either ration or grow some of their own food? We've become soft and that's not a good thing. Your generation can fix that. I don't want to sound melodramatic, but if we truly become softer than other nations, that doesn't bode well for your grandchildren.
And lastly, the wall. Next time you're looking at those relatives, especially the ones who have passed on, think about their legacy to your family. Were they hard workers? Did they create a business? Were they great mothers or great fathers? Did they leave a name for those who followed to be proud of?
Thing is, it won't be too terribly long before your senior picture fades and yellows a bit. At some point, another picture of you, one you can't really imagine today, will hang up there and some young soon-to-be graduate will be staring at it. What will they know of you? What legacy are you leaving for those to follow? That, my young friends, is really what it boils down to.
Go now and have some fun, do some things and live life. For better or worse, it's all yours.
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