It was the best of times.
I was on YouTube the other day and began watching some great commencement speeches, including one by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and one by actor Matt Damon. As I listened to the advice they were giving, I thought about what advice I would give today if I were to speak at another graduation (I have delivered two commencement talks in the past).
The usual advice is something along the lines of: be true to yourself, be willing to dream, make a difference, serve others, reject the limitations others try to impose on you, and be grateful to all those who help you. All valid nuggets of advice. So what would I add to this list? What advice would I give?
Here’s what I decided.
I would advise against becoming an unwitting victim of the discriminatory pronouncements of others. As L. Ron Hubbard stated, “What is true for you is what you have observed yourself.”
It is too easy to agree with the negativity and falsehoods so rampant today. “What is the REAL truth?” is a question you MUST ask yourself.
It is interesting that after presidential debates, the major TV networks have fact-checkers report to the public with the true data to override the unsubstantiated statements of the candidates—those statements believed by so many without a second thought because ‘their’ candidate stated it. They are not willing or prepared to seek out and observe the truth for themselves.
Observe the truth yourself, encourage others to do the same, and so make this the best of times.
In his famous introductory passage to A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens might have been referring to the barrage of negativity we get from the mass media and the positive reality that we could choose to focus our attention on instead.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Far, far too often the media—including social media—wants us to focus on the “worst of times” which thus becomes “reality” for so many. If a mainstream journalist were to edit the above quote, it would read:
Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the worst of times… it was the age of foolishness… it was the epoch of incredulity… it was the season of darkness… it was the winter of despair.”
Here’s how I would close my commencement speech: Observe the truth yourself, encourage others to do the same, and so make this the best of times.
Photos by: Grant Blakeman / Rachel Moon / Shutterstock.com