Thursday, July 1, 2010

shameless promotion (2.0), part ii

Here's this week's SCT column, which wound up rambling on and probably made very little sense to anyone other than me. But you can have fun with it nonetheless. Enjoy.

The new class could be the best of all-time

Editor’s Note: The dope who writes this column is very aware that graduation passed by more than a month ago at schools, both local and otherwise. Let’s pretend it’s still salient and move on.

An open letter to the graduating class of 2010:

First of all, my sincerest congratulations. You survived.

Does that sound a little extreme? Maybe. Still, to finish high school — whether you finished with honors, or whether you plan to go any further with your education — is a milestone of the utmost survival, and you deserve every cheer, hug and gift you’ve received in the last month or so.

(As an aside, the absolute worst part of graduation is writing “thank you” notes for the gifts people gave. I remember thinking I would rather have driven to each person’s house and thanked them in person — even the people that lived across the country — than to have written one more “thank you” note. Anyway, what we were talking about again?)

I come to you with both good news and bad news, now that you’ve reached the peak of this hill known as “primary education.” Actually, climbing the next mountain is both the good … and the bad.

In many ways, this world you’re inheriting has never been any better. We’ve figured out ways to keep ourselves alive longer, with fewer health complications than ever before. We can travel greater distances at greater speeds and communicate with people halfway around the globe at a moment’s notice.

(True story: A few years ago, my brother went overseas to study in Hong Kong for several months. We could talk to him every night, for free, through the power of Skype. No kidding.)

In some other ways, things aren’t so good. This new wave of medicine has turned us all into giant hypochondriacs (look that one up); we’re all terrified of everything, including salt, grease, anything that produces smoke and temperatures above 90 degrees. It’s just as annoying as it sounds.

Further, that technology that’s so wonderful — and while we’re here, allow me to mention our Web site, — hasn’t actually made us more informed people; in fact it seems to be the opposite. Our society doesn’t seem to be any more informed or active in civic issues than it ever was … although we do know way more about who played Lynn Tanner on “ALF” and what spell Molly Weasley used to defeat Bellatrix Lestrange (ummm … spoiler alert?).

Here, I’m afraid, is where you come in. Studies show that your generation is more optimistic about the future, has a “can-do” attitude about work and works well with diverse groups. It will be your job to teach those older than you that the world doesn’t have to be so gloomy all the time.

Often you have heard your great-grandparents’ generation — the one that survived the Depression, won the last world war and started the Baby Boom — called “The Greatest Generation.” Right now, very few would argue that assertion.

But you can be the greatest generation. No, seriously. Remember: “The Greatest Generation” also gave us state-sponsored racism, the horror of Vietnam, the disgrace of Watergate and created the massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons capable of destroying the world several times over.

You can do better. We all can. And unfortunately, we’re going to have to if we have any hope of surviving down the road.

For better or worse, that’s the deal. Here’s to you, as you start your journey.

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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