It’s hard to believe that calendar says it is the beginning of June. The last few weeks have been a scorcher. The weather gives a vibe that is more like late July. Not that I am complaining. But, it is June and as we see the trees get green and the flowers bloom, we see another sure sign of the season: graduations.
Graduation season is filled with anticipation and excitement, but also fear and trepidation. Being the less-than-admirable high school student I was, I felt unprepared for what was to unfold in my life. Of course, this was not the fault of my dedicated teachers and the school I attended. It was primarily of my own doing.
There was still this uneasy feeling of pressure that once the day after graduation came, I needed to have a bulletproof plan for my life laid out. That was hard since I barely knew what the next week had in store. That pressure seemed to come from every direction. Even the well-wishers at my own graduation party asked what was next; the best answer I could give was that I was going to go to Wright State and work at the local hardware store.
Graduating from college, the answers never got easier. When I was graduated from Wright State the first time with my bachelor’s degree, the “what’s next?” question reared its ugly head and the only answer I could give was “grad school.” Two years later, after grad school, there was that question again, and the answer became “get a job.”
If there is one thing I have learned it’s that this world is largely broken and sometimes confused. It is filled with people that will break us down and tell us that there are things that we cannot do, that we do not have the talent, that we do not have the skills. This negative energy is painful. There is enough of that in this world.
Graduates, I would much rather live in a world where we can build each other up. I know that the next generation of graduates, whether from graduate school or pre-school, live an amazing world in which they can make a tremendous contribution. There is a you-shaped hole in this world, your job is to find it and fill it.
We don’t have to limit our ability to change our world to the large dreams we might have. Just because we can’t board a plane to the most desolate places of the world and help the most impoverished does not mean that our works were for nothing. The same issues of poverty, hopelessness, addiction, oppression and loneliness exist everywhere. Including our own community.
I would encourage this new generation of graduates to look at their world through their own hometown, their own community, their own block. I desperately want these new graduates to find and fill the holes of the world with compassion and care. It can be as simple as picking up trash in your neighborhood, our volunteering at the local hospital or library, or anywhere. Anywhere where you can give of yourself and give to the world you live in!
And perhaps, more importantly, it’s important to do this work with your friends. Find your people, find your tribe. Find those people that will walk with you when the road gets scary. Find those people that will speak the truth to you, often when you don’t want to hear it. There are people in this world that will see the great things you can do for this world. And more often than not, they will see that promise and that energy way before you ever realize you have it in yourself. These are the people that you need to treasure and value.
Graduates, changing the world is simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes hard work, it takes determination. But more importantly, it takes you. It takes the unique blend of attitudes and attributes that only you can provide. Take up the challenge, make this world a better place.
This world is ready is for changing. This world is ready for you.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.