I am sure that the class of 2020 recognize the fact that many of their principals, superintendents, board members, and teachers are here tonight. Only time will tell if you need to thank them. I'm not saying this to be mean or disrespectful, and I recognize that many here tonight will consider it a serious breach of decorum to begin a speech this way. I'm not trying to be rude either. I am just stating a fact.
Too often, the citizens of this great country just accept without question what the establishment places before them as being good and needed. Yet, many times and ever more increasingly this is simply not the case. Sometimes it is just a matter of being too lazy to check things out, and just as often it is matter of not wanting to bring attention to yourself as someone who questions authority.
And I'm not one who is particularly big on questioning authority. In a perfect world, I would have it said that our authorities never needed to be questioned, that everything they did was always right and true. But, unfortunately, I am just not seeing that; but I do see that the world we live is not perfect nor has never been perfect.
The people who have the authority to grant my right to speak tonight, I would be safe to guess, would rather have me up here gushing about your prospects and your futures. They would smile happily if all I did was talk about about how bravely you and your classmates will sally forth to face a world full of oppression and bad intentions, and how by being of good heart and armed with the great intelligence and creativity that you have gathered from your 12 years in our local school system, you will one day overcome and rout the forces of evil.
And everybody in the stands would clap and cheer, if all I did was christen you all, the entire graduating class of 2020, as fledging social justice warriors determined to rid the world of all vice and dissenting opinion.
And I can't do that. And the reason is because it is a bullshit idea.
You are going forth into a world that now pushes the idea that there is only one way to think, and if you don't happen to think that way, you are unworthy of existence, and no one should talk to you ever again, and all your previous actions and words should be stricken from the annals of history.
Free thought is being strangled by a corporate method of thinking where everything and everybody needs to be at all times liked and desired, and all dissent and free thinking is not only discouraged, but is equated with racism, fascism, and the spreading of hatred. Wherein a normal world, it would only be considered a different way of thinking, and contrary viewpoints and ideas understood to be as important to sustaining a free society as air is to drowning man.
You do not need safe spaces and trigger words. You need to be challenged and made uncomfortable, You need to leave the womb of your mother's, the warmth of your parent's house, the boundaries of your small town, in order to go forth and search out your destinies, and to come back changed for the better. You do not need to become perfect; you need only to be changed for the better.
You need to explore your attic spaces and your darker natures and learn to wrestle with your own demons and learn to defeat the monsters that you will encounter along the way. You need to climb trees, to scrape your elbows and your knees, get your feelings hurt, and to be made sad. You will need to learn how to fall and how to get back up. You need to learn how failure usually waters the roots of success.
For if you always hide beneath your blankets and in safe rooms while letting others protect you and your parents and your teachers define both your fears and your responses, how will you ever learn to become fully functioning human beings?
You need to become the prodigal children, the ones who leave home with a pocketful of dreams and a rebellious nature to make your mark upon the world. You need to see the world as it really is and people as they really are, and not view it as a fake paradise inhabited by hordes of narcissistic, virtuous zombies afraid of speaking their own truth.
You need to be the children who come back home ragged, aged, and scarred, and more than a little bit disillusioned, but a hell of a lot wiser and more determined than ever to become the individuals who you are meant to be.
Otherwise, what's the fucking point?