Graduations are occurring all across this great country. Young men and women are leaving high schools and colleges, trade-schools and professional schools. And as they go out, I’m always inspired by their enthusiasm.
Of course, it’s easy to feel excited when professors and teachers shower you with ceremony and speak in vague, lofty terms like humanity and excellence, greatness and knowledge. It’s easy when they throw out platitudes like ‘make a difference,’ and ‘give back.’
But after the pomp and circumstance have faded; after the mortar-boards have been tossed and the robe stuck in the closet for…well, forever, there’s the hard business of life. As such, there are some things to remember.
First of all, remember that however ironic or ‘hipster’ you may be, lots of people know more than you do. Frequently, these people are called parents.
I know, I know, at this point you graduates have a profound understanding of the universe, gifted to you by the Internet, popular media, your teachers and best of all, your brilliant friends. But when it all hits the fan, remember to call upon your parents and other family members.
The ones who will actually rescue you when it turns out your were an idiot. It’s OK. They love you; unlike the cast of American Idol or the folks who developed your i-Phone.
Next, know this. It’s hard out there. The job market is tight. What that means is you need marketable skills. Failing that you need humility and a willingness to learn.
Preferably you’ll have all of that. You should come to your interview dressed like an adult. And you should shut off the phone and resist the overwhelming urge to text, check texts or Tweet about your experience.
Once hired, you must be humble, show up for work and be kind to your customers, employers and co-workers. A contractor once told me: ‘I don’t need a kid with a construction science degree.
I need a kid who can communicate and get along with my clients. I can teach him everything he needs to know about construction.’
Happily, despite the stuttering economy, new jobs and new markets are emerging and will continue to emerge. (Notice the remarkable paucity of grist-mill operators, wagon train guides and buffalo hunters, juxtaposed against the large amount of jobs in engineering, the computer industry, cellular communications and fracking.)
Lucrative jobs are out there if you want to travel, or (see above) be humble. A man can make a lot of money welding or driving a fuel truck while his friends sit around with Occupy Wall-Street folks, sipping over-priced coffee and bemoaning the diminished value of degrees in Medieval intercultural transgender and trans-race religious studies.
What else? Well you had better believe in something. The world will tell you that everything is relative. But when Einstein discovered relativity, it was a concept in physics, and not in ethics. There are right things and wrong things and you need to understand that fundamental truth. If you don’t, you will eventually grasp that at least theft is wrong when someone steals your identity after stealing your wallet.
Your educators (the more highly educated you are) will have told you that everything is alright if you just believe it is. They may have told you the evils of money and big business, and that morality is a silly exercise in antiquated beliefs.
Bear in mind, of course, that they detest cheating, they make nice salaries, tend to live in nice neighborhoods, send their kids to nice schools and believe that it’s immoral to take any of their benefits. That’s ironic.
Now, know this. All the money in the world won’t make you happy (although it does make things a bit easier). It’s another ancient idea, but love and family are more important than finance. History is replete with the powerful, rich and famous who died alone and lonely.
So find someone and love them, and let them love you. Yes, you could behave like they do on television and in movies. Just keep looking for that perfect someone, rejecting anyone who gets close, and exposing yourself to endless emotional turmoil and communicable disease.
But ultimately, you should remember that half the battle is finding someone who can tolerate your craziness. (That’s right…sometimes you’re the problem, so remember it.) When you do find that person, treasure them.
I could go on and on. But I’ll finish with this. Freedom matters. Prosperity requires freedom. Families thrive on freedom. Innovation demands freedom. Freedom makes us safer than tyranny ever could, because it makes each person ultimately responsible for his or her success and prosperity. Freedom also multiplies the unique skills of the mass of citizens into exponentially increasing wonders.
As America, and the world, slip further into the temptation to limit freedom, to stifle free speech, monitor every e-mail, text and phone call, confiscate firearms, regulate food and tax every good thing to death, please realize that these things are antithetical to the future you desire, in which you work, keep your money, decide how and where to live, raise your family, believe as you wish and defend your own life.
The future depends not on policies or programs. The future, dear ones, depends upon your initiative, your risk, your struggle, your love and your dedication to truth and liberty. So live wisely and prosper! God bless you all. And God bless America.