High school and college graduates, you’ll hear a lot of words at your ceremonies. Words about choice, duty, dreams and the lot. Above all, listen to the words in your heart. Be productive, be kind and be happy.
You’ll be congratulated for navigating years of high school or college; you’ll be told that you are the future and that the future is in good hands because of you and your peers across the nation.
There will be variations on the theme of becoming whatever you set your heart to; you will be told that you’re special and you live in America, the land of opportunity.
Many of your peers want to be rich and famous. Not all of you will be famous and not all of you will be rich, let alone superrich. There is always the possibility you can be both; it’s all up to you. Fame and riches are not easily bestowed, both must be earned. If you want to be rich and famous you have taken the first step: getting an education.
Millions of people live a life well worth examining without the benefit of renown or wealth. Lives without those two things can yet be bountiful if it includes the search for truth and beauty (scholasticism and art).
One of man’s unalienable rights is the pursuit of happiness. There is more to happiness than the latest technological gadget or sleeping in. Happiness is how we define it for ourselves; let no other person define what makes you happy.
Strive to live a life that is worth examining. Contribute to society, be kind to, and tolerant of, those different from yourself. Leave any place better than how you found it. Being the best person you can be will lead to happiness and contentment.
Those graduating from high school probably have their eye set on a course of study in college or a career. Keep an open mind; things change. Some college students end up having numerous majors before settling on one that was never in the mix at the beginning of college.
Keep an open mind about a career that uses your hands and will be needed. Many choose to study business or marketing; but the nation will face a shortage of plumbers, electricians and other trades within 10 years. A career in the trades may not be glamorous but it is honorable, necessary, and makes for a nice living.
The world has changed since you started school in the first grade. The world will change even more in the coming decade. Being part of that change can be a rewarding career path via public service. There is no nobler position than one that is in the service of people. Be it a career in politics, social services, or government service, public service is a path less taken but rewarding on its own.
Graduates, listen to what people tell you as you leave school, but listen to your heart. That’s where your future lies.