Regardless of your politics, this is a commencement address worth pondering:
There is a verse from the Bible that is sometimes read or recited during rites of passage like this. Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.”
I bring this up because there’s often an assumption on days like today that growing up is purely a function of age; that becoming an adult is an inevitable progression that can be measured by a series of milestones – college graduation or your first job or the first time you throw a party that actually has food too.
And yet, maturity does not come from any one occasion – it emerges as a quality of character. Because the fact is, I know a whole lot of thirty and forty and fifty year olds who have not yet put away childish things – who continually struggle to rise above the selfish or the petty or the small.
We see this reflected in our country today.
We see it in a politics that’s become more concerned about who’s up and who’s down than who’s working to solve the real challenges facing our generation; a politics where debates over war and peace are reduced to 60-second soundbites and 30-second attack ads.
We see it in a media culture that sensationalizes the trivial and trivializes the profound – in a 24-hour news network bonanza that never fails to keep us posted on how many days Paris Hilton will spend in jail but often fails to update us on the continuing genocide in Darfur or the recovery effort in New Orleans or the poverty that plagues too many American streets.
And as we’re fed this steady diet of cynicism, it’s easy to start buying into it and put off hard decisions. We become tempted to turn inward, suspicious that change is really possible, doubtful that one person really can make a difference.
That’s where the true test of growing up occurs. That’s where you come in... [More]
I cannot remember any of the commencement speeches or speakers I have listened to as a parent, graduate or attendee. Precisely because I hadn't truly grown up, I suspect.