Question authority. Get pissed off about the state of the world. In fact, in this day and age of ‘entitlement’ mentality, this is the one thing you are truly entitled to: concern, disgust and anger over how your world is physically and socially shaping up (or, breaking down, as the case may be).
“But, you do not have a right to just post on Facebook, Tweet or otherwise bitch and moan via social media or even to an open ear at the local coffee shop. You also have a responsibility — no, a NEED — to actually DO something about it. Make your concerns known; stand up for what you believe is right and just; make a stink.
“You may be leaving this bastion of learning in our comfortable little village, heading out into the world, but your learning is FAR from over. If it doesn’t feel right, smell right, look right, it probably isn’t right. FIND OUT MORE!
“I give you permission to protest, blockade, petition and otherwise make it known, the will of the people. It will only be through peaceful yet assertive means of solidarity and education that faceless, multi-billion dollar industries will no longer be able to take advantage of or, dare I say, rape the American people by brainwashing them into bending to their wills that THEY may prosper!
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“Stand up and speak out with all due respect but clarity and strength of voice. Use those social tools for actual good. Don’t believe everything you see or read or hear, but rather look under, pry open, check from all possible angles whatever is presented to you as truth. And, spread peace wherever you go.”
Were I some famous person asked to give a commencement speech, it would sound something like that. But, alas, I’m not.
So, I tried to impress upon my own children these thoughts as my mom did before me, discussing the Vietnam War on the news and all.
By the age of 10, I understood the actions my brother was taking to stay out of that mess. I spoke up and out about it on the playground. And it never stopped. Mom informed me of the proposed Diablo Canyon plant and I did not hesitate to go protest. And it continued.
I took my own boys to Code Pink rallies or Women in Black marches and we often discussed current events and encouraged them to think for themselves, even if that meant coming to different conclusions than their parents (which they didn’t — usually). I want this critical thinking for every child.
And all this spews out of my fingers at the moment as yet another crop of Coast Union High School seniors prepare to hit the gravel road into the future. No, it’s not slickly paved — rather, more like Highway 1 in its current rugged state of supposed “improvement.” But there’s an awful lot of beauty surrounding it and Cambria will always prove a good home base to those who may need one.
I wanted to send this message out to all you young ladies and gentlemen before the last week of school sweeps you away: Take the gifts of love and support, familiarity and caring from those around you here in school, at home and in the community and do good with them. Think of those four gifts as sturdy tires with a 100,000-mile guarantee on them to take you far safely!