Scranton column: To all our graduates
Congratulations for making it through the most confusing and difficult semester of your public school education.
The rapidity of the school shutdown, and our country in general, was matched by most every country in the world. However, like the life you are about to embark on, it became really confusing because schools, communities, and states each seemed to want to do things differently. Should you, as a graduate, have any doubt about the impulse to resist the collective, you have experienced it over the last seven weeks.
But, resisting the collective experience can be difficult in an age of shame-casting, social-distancing, distance-learning, and mask-wearing.
You will be embarking on one of the greatest adventures ever hoisted upon a class of graduates. Soon after you graduate, you will be consumed by actual thoughts about what you are going to do with the rest of your life. You will have to start making actual plans to do the things that you only had to talk about for the past 12 years in a really confused world!
I remember how glorious I felt as I graduated from high school and confidently strode into my future absolutely convinced that my career as a mechanic would help make all my adolescent hopes and dreams come true. It was some of the most exciting days of my life – for about six months.
What each of you need to remember always and forever is that you will make determinations that don’t work out as you imagined or expected. School teaches you that you can fix just about every mistake but life isn’t so kind. Sometimes you have to live through the things that you imagine will be good, but turn out bad.
The collective is telling you how much you need to stay away, stay put, so you can stay safe. Sure, you have to be smart about things, but remember how much people in general just want you to follow and not ask too many questions.
I truly hope that each one of you will have the confidence and courage not to get absorbed into the collective and always ask the questions that need to be asked.
We should all treat each other right and do our best to help those around us but it is my greatest hope that there are members of this graduating class of 2020 who will go on to do things that make them feel a sense of fulfillment.
Telling young people to go out and do great things is trivial because the greatest thing anyone can ever do is to be true to themselves, live what they believe and find work that reflects their values, and not be afraid to ask why.
Congratulations and thanks for making it through, now it’s time to go and make something of yourself.
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