Monday, June 15, 2020

Wrecking the ant mound: My remarks to this year's graduates

My remarks last week to our Depot Campus graduates:

What a time we are living in! I certainly haven’t seen anything like this! And what a time to graduate from high school. You’re graduating online! When I was in high school, there wasn’t even an internet yet, and there weren’t any pandemics. Though there were certainly some protests and even riots. It’s a crazy time. And so much has happened that it can become very discouraging. We’re all socially isolated. We may be lonely. We’re all anxious about everything that’s going on. We may feel threatened or afraid. And it’s easy to get discouraged. Maybe you feel like that. Maybe you even feel hopeless about your future. I hope not, because it’s never hopeless. This is a time of tremendous disruption and upheaval. It’s a time of tremendous change. And that means it’s a time of hope. When I was in my admin prep program, a classmate made an analogy about change. He said when you wreck an ant mound, it doesn’t go away. It rebuilds itself in a new way. And that’s what happens any time there is a big disruption. Something new is built. And that’s where we are now. The ant mound is getting disrupted. And something new is going to be built. And you can help build it. Or at the very least, you get to experience it. And I’m convinced it will be better. I’m convinced that it will be better because I think this is the time where young people and people who have been held back for too long will take the lead. And whether you take the lead or not, you will have the chance to take advantage of the change. Look for the opportunities that will arise as this new ant mound is built. Old ways are passing away. New ways are coming. Keep your eyes and minds open. No one can predict what all the changes will be, but there is hope for a world with less racism and more justice and equality. There is hope for a world with more compassion and less consumerism--more focus on the things that are really important, like community and family, whatever that means to you. So don’t give up. These are hard times, and for some of you, it may seem like it’s always been hard times. But I’m here to tell you times change. And part of what determines that is you. No one is coming to save you. No one is coming to ride up on a horse and scoop you up and carry you off into the sunset. You are on your own horse. You need to do the work to be able to be part of this new thing that’s being built. You are one of the ants. Things are tough right now. And I have a feeling they are not going to get easier very soon. But at the same time, these are exciting times. They are times of change. So think about who and what you are and who and who and what you want to be, because everything, right now, is up in the air. And finally, realize that all of this uncertainty is OK, because really the only thing that is ever certain… is change. And if you can get comfortable with uncertainty and change, you will have a superpower. So lean into all of this change. The philosopher Alan Watts said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Join the dance of the ants rebuilding the mound. I wish you all the best as you move to the next stage of your journey!