A Change of (Commencement) Address

Shaping young minds…or is it twisting?

by Thomas Lindaman

One of the perks of being a celebrity is being asked to give public speeches, including the occasional commencement address for a high school or institution of higher learning. Of course, I’m not a celebrity, per se, which would explain why I’m still waiting on a high school or institution of higher learning to contact me. But, just in case Pauly Shore or Paris Hilton’s gardener’s first cousin’s manicurist has to cancel, here’s a glimpse at what you’d get if you hired me.

Greetings students, faculty, staff, parents, and significant others. It is a fine day to be speaking to the class of [insert year] of [insert name of school]. It wasn’t so long ago that I wandered through these hallowed halls as a lowly freshman, trying to find [insert name of beloved instructor’s room to take [insert name of class instructor taught]. Boy, wasn’t he/she a tough, but fair teacher?

Okay, I lied. I never went to school here. But this is the first lesson you need to learn before going off into the "real world." People lie. Some right to your face and on a daily basis in the case of politicians, salesmen, and Bill Clinton, but I’m repeating myself with that last one.

I know commencement addresses are all about inspiring you to go out and be the very best you can be, but let’s face facts here. The real world can suck out loud sometimes. There comes a time when the idealism of youth gives way to harsh realities, like realizing that painting your body green and blue for your big Earth Day march/excuse to pick up liberal chicks isn’t going to make things better.

What I’m saying is that when you look for your way to make a difference, make sure you’re being realistic. Idealism is great, but when it’s not tempered with a sense of reality, you’ll get disappointed quickly. At the risk of sounding like my parents, when I was your age, I had a head full of ambitious dreams, and right out of college I was convinced I was going to shake up the world. Have I? Unless you count being permanently banned from "Deal or No Deal" for asking the models to open my pants, not really.

When a dream gets crushed by reality, it hurts a lot. Think of it this way. Remember those stunts on "Jackass" where Steve-O gets nailed in a particularly uncomfortable place? Now imagine doing that on a daily basis without the cameras, the celebrity, or Johnny Knoxville. Serious ouch, kids…yet, strangely stimulating…where was I again? Oh, yeah, the speech.

My young friends, there will be some things in this world that you won’t be able to tackle. Global warming? Regardless of what Al Gore says, you really won’t make a dent in the issue, mainly because Gore’s sucking up all the carbon credits he can so he can appear to be "carbon neutral." But you can do your bit to recycle. Sure, it may not save any polar bears or close the ozone hole once and for all, but it is an attainable goal that actually accomplishes something. Does that let you off the hook if you’re driving an SUV that gets 4 gallons a mile? Not so much.

If you want to change the world, sometimes the best thing you can do is keep your own house in order. Especially if you live in a house of 14 people like your best friend and fellow activist Scooby whose idea of personal hygiene is spraying himself down with Right Guard every other day so he doesn’t have to take showers as often, thus saving the planet’s water supply. A noble cause, but it might explain why his room always smells like feet and he’s always available on Friday and Saturday nights when the other housemates have dates.

Also, I need to let you in on a little secret. Only a handful of you out there will do something significant with your lives. The rest of you will work at staying ahead of the pack or keeping your heads above water, or some other cliché meant to indicate that someone is merely subsisting. Some will marry well, others will marry badly (and usually more than once). Some will work themselves into an early retirement, while others will work themselves into an early grave…which is a form of early retirement if you really think about it.

Now, before you think this entire speech is going to be a Sylvia Plath-apalooza, I do have some nuggets of inspirational wisdom to share. Although things may not work out well for you in the "real world," you should take stock in the fact that you live in the United States of America, one of the richest, most powerful, and all-around neato countries in the world. Yes, I know the leftists in the audience will be depressed at this, but hear me out. For all of our faults, like making Jamie Kennedy a star, we’re still pretty good. And do you know why?

Because we’re free to do a lot. Drop the "fascist America" talk and realize that if America really was as fascistic as some of you think, you wouldn’t be here right now. You would be off to Gitmo, or worse. Trust me, things would be a lot easier for President Bush if he pulled a Castro on us, but he’s not going to. After all, who wants to look like Ringo Starr’s disheveled twin brother, Otter?

If you think it’s bad here, imagine being in the Middle East right now. You think President Imadinnerjacket of Iran would let you call him names? Heck no! He’s have you arrested, thrown in jail, tried for treason, and executed before you could say, "Nice Members Only jacket." And, yes, I know it’s not his real name. I just prefer to call him that because I can. That’s America, kids! So, thank God or whatever deity or lack of deity you worship or don’t worship that you’re here in the land of the free, and home of the Atlanta Braves.

So, in closing, let me leave you with something my grandfather always used to say.

"Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!"

Congratulations, and God bless!

Who needs Congressmen, religious leaders, or famous people when you could have me delivering a commencement address? You know how to contact me. I’ll be waiting by the phone for your call.

And, no, I won’t be holding my breath, so you can stop asking.


Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and NewsBull.com. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of CommonConservative.com.

This entry was posted in Education, Social Issues. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply