You who are old, and have fought the fight, and have won or lost or left the fight,
Weight us not down with fears of the world, as we run!
Cale Young Rice
When I wrote the above demand into my quote notebook, I was young and annoyed by fearful advice from my elders. I try not to be pessimistic around younger people, which is easy because I’m optimistic by nature. In fact, the one time I was invited to be a commencement speaker, years ago, at a dental hygiene school, I may have shared the Rice quote, along with congratulating the graduates on choosing a profession that would make people smile more.
But now I notice that at many colleges, speakers are disinvited by students who should still be eager to learn, instead of just believing everything some liberal professors taught them. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes that while there have always been protests, what has changed is “the willingness of colleges and speakers to give in ... many apparently voluntary withdrawals are made at the college’s urging.”
For this distorted kind of “education,” some parents/students go tens of thousands into debt? So, I am disregarding Mr. Rice and offering this commencement speech to 2014 college graduates, from someone who is still fighting the fight:
Hey, kids, listen up. I’ve got some serious “fears of the world” for you to run with. Here are three that scare me on behalf of my grandchildren.
1. Your economic future. If you studied something for which graduates are in demand, then maybe it was worth the level of debt some of you are carrying. However, if, like me, you studied what interested you at the time, with no thought about viable professions and, unlike me, borrowed to do it (I quit when I ran out of cash), what were you THINKING? Add to the need to repay your college loans the fact that you each owe $55,000 toward the (so far) $17.5 trillion national debt, and may someday have to pay tax increases to cover a) federal government spending when no country can or will lend us more, and b) unfunded liabilities at the state and local level. Unfairly, you’ll keep paying into the Social Security/Medicare systems with little chance of ever receiving your share of services.