Letter: Advice for the Graduates
To the Editor:
This is my farewell letter to the Lebanon High Class of ’13 — some 180-plus students, including my son Caleb. Many of you I have known for over a decade, having read “Junior Great Books” to you for a few years back at Mount Lebanon School.
I am sure you have received more advice than you wished for and are already moving into the next phase of your lives. I have a message for you, and it has a few parts.
First of all, and most importantly, you may be retiring in about 50 years. At that time, I am hoping that you will want to look back and say that you made a positive difference, a definable improvement in the world’s state of affairs. It’s not good enough to simply be successful. Remember to do the right thing when it is easy. But, more to the point, do the right thing when it isn’t the easy thing to do. There really is no shortcut to dignity.
You have all likely heard the phrase, “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” Of course, I am not suggesting that you walk around angry, but do realize that this expression is every bit as true now as it was the year it was coined. Tell those of us in charge how we messed up, and how things can be changed for the better. Do it respectfully, with energy but not arrogance, but do take us to task. There is just so, so much that must and can be improved here in the U.S. and around the world. Remember, impatience is a good thing when used properly. Have impatience with wrongs that can be righted, and use your youth and vigor, and your idealism, to improve matters. One more point — don’t lose the edge as you grow older. Don’t ever grow complacent; keep your commitment to change, your impatience, when you are no longer young. We need a commitment from all to move things forward, not just from the young.
You all have my very best wishes for a fun, successful, activist life. Do us proud, and go forth with passion.