Editor’s note: You may also enjoy last year’s graduation article, Graduation Completes The Circle.
By: Chris Warren.
More than just recognition for academic achievement, graduation is a celebration, a joy, and a time for release after having completed a difficult years-long task. It’s a time of excitement and dreams. A time to behold the great things that come next and the doors that are opened. Beyond the honors and knowledge, the big hope is that graduates will understand that what really changes the world is a concern for others.
People who are intellectually brilliant but look out only for themselves are dangerous and seldom use their abilities for anything positive. Being smart is only half the equation. One also needs a good heart and a sense of right and wrong. Your education gives your heart something to do; whether that “something” is good or bad depends on what was in your heart in the first place. Love for others binds you to others. That is why those who love only themselves have so little concern for others. They are attached to no one and therefore have no reason to care about anyone. Even when they do good works, it’s with the ulterior motive of elevating themselves.
One does not have to be exceptionally intelligent to make a difference. Yes, society needs smart people to cure diseases, launch rockets, and solve great problems, but the everyday normal people who quietly do small things we’ll never see in headlines count too. The food banks, the elderly, the disabled veterans, single parents, and the unemployed all need the kind of help that does not come from book learning. You don’t need a four year college degree to put your hand on someone’s shoulder and tell them you care. Effective love does not require a grade transcript or a resumé.
As the class of 2015 goes its separate ways, compassion, concern, and love for life should be the common theme that keeps their souls together no matter how far apart they go in time and place. Many things in their lives will change, but hearts stay the same. If they spend the rest of their years looking for ways to use what they know to benefit others, regardless of benefit to self, then their educations have been a huge success.
Diplomas and degrees don’t mean much if your mind is full but your heart is empty.
The teachers of the class of 2015 will likely never know what eventually becomes of the students they gently tended like a garden. It makes them feel good to see their students graduate, but letting students go is hard to do even when it was understood that letting them go was the the point of teaching them to begin with. A teacher knows that commencement is a synonym for beginning. Just as the pain of saying goodbye repeats itself every single year, so too is the joy of being given a fresh class of students to watch over and guide along. A teacher is an artist who never gets to see his own finished masterpiece.
The most important lesson the class of 2015 should leave with is that diplomas and degrees don’t mean much if your mind is full but your heart is empty. You have been watched out for, helped, protected, and loved for your entire educational experience. The hour has arrived for you to go out and multiply unto others the kindness you have received yourselves. At times the job will be difficult, perhaps hopeless, yet the moment will come when you see that your elders were right the whole time. Love has a value much greater than the pain spent achieving it. Show the world that true wisdom is equal parts knowledge and compassion. You have been given all the tools you need. You know right from wrong. You have no excuses. Go proudly forward and let your love bind you to all living things.