High School Grads Given A Dose of Truth
How many of us remember our high school graduation. We were asked to put on cap and gown and walk around to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" and told that we were great. Oh, how wonderful an achievement graduation is and how we have arrived. We were essentially lied to and told that we were something special when we stepped into the "real world" and found out that being special doesn't pay the bills. Being special doesn't get us a job or have people standing up and cheering every time we did anything.
A recent graduation ceremony in Massachusetts was, in a word, refreshing. A high school teacher had the guts to tell graduates, "You're not special." Imagine the jolt that would have been hearing that at our graduation. The teacher's name is David McCullough Jr. and he delivered a speech that was so full of meaning, it bears reading the whole thing. Some of the highlights? Check these out:
Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.
Throughout the rest of the speech, he highlights the real reasons why people should learn and why they should keep on learning over the years. While it is more than just a splash of cold water in the face. Rather it is a bucket of cold water dumped on you, it is refreshing to read. None of us is special. None of us is something that the world revolves around. We are not the center of the universe.
Such thinking is different from what we usually hear, but consider that the men and women that are truly great would never consider themselves great. Indeed, Mother Theresa helped the lowest of the low and impressed us all with her humble approach to life. Abraham Lincoln was a man that simply tried to keep together a crumbling union and did so against tremendous odds. He didn't consider himself one of the greatest men to hold the Presidency and yet we think of him that way today.
These people didn't set out to be noticed. They set out to make a difference in the world. It makes sense that we should do the same no matter what age we are. Make a difference, but don't do it to be noticed. Do it so the world is a better place. Even if it means no one knows your name. If you impacted just one person that went on to change the world, you did something significant.
That just might be the key to it all. How refreshing to know that a class full of seniors got a life lesson from their graduation, apart from the fact that graduation robes really don't do much for you.