Graduates: we need you

Friday, May 18, 2012

Graduates, we need you.

Every year we need your optimism, your belief that you can change the world. We're not saying that just to be nice.

In this political season, you can see better than any other time our country is hog tied by longstanding competing beliefs. Those who have power are determined to keep it at all costs. They want you as an ally to increase their numbers.

What they don't count on is you are the Facebook-iPad-iPhone-laptop-in-your-hands generation. You don't have to do things the same old way. You can invent a new method of communication or a new product that changes the world. Out of your hands can come a whole new wealth stream.

We need you to turn the world upside down. We need you to make oil obsolete, so today's arguments about energy reliance, pollution and global warming will become irrelevant. We need you to create a product everyone will have to have. When you do, you won't need the money of the old power brokers to change the world. You can do it without them.

We need you to work together. The politicians who have gridlocked our political process want you to think they are the only ones with the answers. Don't believe them. Find common ground among each other. Develop an agenda of what's good for you and push it.

Never mind if your agenda is different or that the powers that be say you're irrelevant. That's what they said about the ragtag, powerless young people who stood against the Vietnam war 45 years ago. They are still one of our most feared and powerful models for social change.

We need you for more than new ideas. You are coming on the scene as America is about to face an unprecedented upheaval in its workforce.

The post-World War II baby boomers are going to retire in droves in the next 20 years. By the time you reach 30, you may have risen faster in your profession than you imagined. By the time you are 40, you're likely to face enormous responsibility because there's not enough people left to do the job. Get ready for something totally unseen by your parents.

Congratulations for what you have achieved at Monett High School. Remember what you liked growing up in Monett and go find it for the family you start. You may have not come to Monett by choice, but the rest of your life is another story.

Living well is not an accident. Nor does it necessarily mean being in charge of everything. Find what makes you happy, whether it's responsibility or the simple life and embrace it.

Whatever you do, do it well, and remember, we need you.