Yesterday on the show, I read a story about what one teacher did during a graduation commencement speech that not only surprised me, but I found encouraging.
David McCullough Jr. is an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Boston, which is like our Mercer Island. At one point during the graduation commencement speech, David said to the students graduating, “you are not special.”
Here are some quotes of what he said during the speech:
“Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.”
“You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.”
“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion—and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special."
Because everyone is.
Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.”
This is was a well said speech. The only thing I would add to that is that you really have to master selfishness before you can master selflessness. What I mean by selfishness is that you have to learn how to take care of yourself and the way you do that is to earn it.
You cannot have someone take care of you your whole life; once you learn how to do that, then you can help the collective and take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.
I hope these kids can take this speech to heart and appreciate these wise words.