Ah, graduation. A seminal milestone filled with pomp and circumstance and typically a lot of words signifying, not much. As someone who prefers to "go gentle into that good night" and does not like a lot of closure, I have never gone in much for graduations. A friend tells me graduation it is really for the parents. That seems about right - I certainly hope my minions do some graduating some day.
So I was pleasantly surprised last week when, from our very own sleepy little town comes a graduation speech worth listening to. A speech right up there with the not really by Kurt Vonnegut MIT commencement speech in 1997. From that point until last week, I had not noticed a graduation speech. Apparently, now that I think of it, this includes one of my own graduations at which I was in attendance but can't tell you a single thing about who said what on that auspicious day.
Then suddenly, shockingly, from the public high school in our little town comes a graduation speech with a real message. A message so
Why on earth has the world found this speech so compelling? Maybe because people are tired of the child-centric world we have created. Maybe people realize that when these children who have been given every advantage ask "What's in it for me?" instead of "How can I help?" or as McCullough says
"building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans" the world is out of balance.
McCullough finishes strong with the message:
"Selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special - because everyone is. Congratulations, good luck. Make for yourselves, please for your sake and ours, extraordinary lives."
Here's hoping this is the beginning of a brave new world for us all.