It is interesting to read about the wide range of commencement speakers at graduation ceremonies around the country. Some offer useful information, others have a political message, and a few seem to just like to hear themselves talk.
While I doubt that I’ll ever be asked to speak to a graduating class, there is no doubt about what I’d share with those young people. It isn’t about you, join in with society, and our great nation is facing serious challenges that need your input are the basic topics I’d cover.
Life is not about you. It is about how you interact with others. It is healthy to have ambition, to set goals and make plans, but you need to realize that the highpoints of your life are supposed to be the times where you make others lives sweeter. It isn’t what you get, but what you give that gives you the satisfaction of a life well lived.
Look in the faces of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and see their pride in your achievements. Regardless of whether you aced every test or struggled for every passing grade, you have made others proud of you. Your choices, work, and effort to be sitting here today have had an impact on many others. Even your teachers and friends feel pride in your being in this body.
When you find that special person and make the decision to be with them for the rest of your life, it will be about them, not you. It will make you feel so great, but your actions are what will give joy to your husband or wife.
The day you are blessed with a child will mark a change in your life. When you hold that infant, they will look at you with pure innocence. Their life will be yours to affect. Love them, work for them, spend time with them and teach them well. They will be the best measure of your life, not your career, not the positions you’ll hold, and definitely not the media coverage you receive.
Charity is a part of realizing it isn’t about you. Choose your charities by what your heart and values tell you. Remember that it is important to give of your time as well as of your money. It isn’t about feeling good, but seeing the faces of those you help.
Life’s journey will offer many opportunities to you, but never forget that the best things in your life are not about you.
Life is about joining with others to make things better. American society is about independent people joining together in groups, clubs, associations, and churches to help themselves and their families to grow to their full potential. Together we make our communities better places to live.
The strength of the individual is never as strong as when the individual becomes part of a larger group. Your unique talents and abilities can be magnified when you unite with others in common cause.
Learn to work and play with others and life will be far more enjoyable. When you give a smile to a stranger, you will normally get one back. A kind word can make someone’s day and when you help make another’s day a bit better, you start building a group.
Civic groups, business associations, churches, recreational clubs, and fraternal orders all offer opportunities for you to grow and learn in your community. Join, pay dues, be the one who cross pollinates between groups in the community you choose to call home. Take the opportunity to serve others by accepting leadership when it is offered.
When you build a team and watch others grow into the people and leaders they desire to be, your reward is immeasurable. Our nation is about working with others to accomplish impossible tasks and it always starts with a small group who are passionate.
There are a number of organizations that rise to the forefront when I think of the groups I’ve belonged to over my lifetime. I’ve chosen the Grange as the primary organization to be active in because it is focused on the family and community. As I’ve grown and changed, new opportunities have always been available.
America needs each of you to step up to the plate now. Not in a decade or two, but now. Government spending and sky-rocketing debt, regulation of most aspects of our professional and private lives is increasing at an astonishing rate and we cannot sustain it.
Are we going to be a people who face our problems and find new solutions? Is our independent spirit going to be crushed by an ever-growing government? Will the American dream of giving our children a better life started to die?
I don’t believe it. Millions of Americans through thousands of groups will supply the answers to today’s crisis’s. Your input and active participation are not just needed, it is required.
Your opinions will change and evolved as your pass through life. New problems will arise and require new solutions. If you remember that it isn’t about you and that it is by joining in with society that we find the answers, I’m not worried about our American future.
A wonderful life awaits and may God bless each of you!