Dear graduates 2011


graduation audience, by Kayla

Parents, teachers and distinguished members of the Class of 2011:

Are you ready to conquer the world?

Many grownups will tell you to conquer the world, now that you have nabbed that coveted diploma you’ve earned after years of schooling. But what is the world? Is it a loose confederation of enemy countries that want to blow us up? Or that send their huddled masses yearning to take our jobs and leech off of our health care system?

Before you conquer the world, go see it for yourself.

You will find it is not a set of coordinates on a Google Map, nor a list of places and battles from your textbooks.

For your entire adolescence, you’ve lived in a terror bubble. We suffered our greatest terrorist attack 10 years ago, and it has likely shaped how you view the lands and the people outside our borders.

We have told you that people want to kill us. But in reality, it’s a very small number. We have told you that securing our homeland takes highest priority. But we have discarded our precious freedoms along the way.

We have told you that the world is not safe. But you must judge that for yourself.

Part of that warped vision comes from our own identity crisis. If the United States isn’t the world leader as it once was, then what are we? What is our place in the world?

As you leave the comfort of the familiar, you will meet the many people who don’t think like Americans, live like Americans. Some aspire to, as we’ve inflicted our Walmarts, our McDonald’s and our Starbucks on communities around the glove.

Your travels will expose you to the extremes of daily life. You’ll find in some corners a more relaxed pace free from the many screens that keep us plugged in yet tuned out. You’ll see how some scrape by in true poverty, yet embody a generous hospitality some might label Southern.

The world you discover will not fall neatly into labels and stereotypes. You will meet dozens of strangers who represent the millions who do not consider America conqueror or savior, but merely, neighbor.

All you need is a passport, maybe a map, some comfortable shoes, a few changes of clothes, some money and a sense of adventure.

Where you go isn’t too terribly important. But go. Learn. Grow. Represent us well.

Are you ready to conquer the world? No.

Are you ready to let the world conquer you?

Thank you, congratulations, and God bless you.

• • •

Dear graduates

  • 2010: Your degree is your past; your ingenuity is your future.
  • 2006: Leave a mark. A big black scorch mark on society.
  • 2005: Look past the past
  • 2004: Oh the war-torn places you’ll go
  • 2003: Time of liberation at hand
  • 2002: The clarion call of Sept. 11
  • 2000: A small matter of the bill

• • •

Where would you tell new graduates to visit first? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by Kayla / CC BY 2.0


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