The following is the speech that I wrote and gave at my graduation. It shocked the socks off of some people at the beginning, but I think that they understood my point by the end.
Congratulations on this achievement. We all know that it is not an easy task to finish high school and graduate, yet here we are today as a testament to our dedication and hard work. Consequently, it is with utmost sincerity that I congratulate each and every one of you.
Of course, we all know that this is just the beginning of the journey of life, and as you begin this next leg of that journey I would like to leave you with one guiding thought: you are not special. Not exactly the inspiring graduation speech that most people expect, I know, but before you throw the garbage and rotten tomatoes, hear me out. When I say that you are not special, it does not mean that you are not unique. Every one of us is different in his own way; that is what makes us who we are. Let me explain my statement this way. Every snowflake is supposed to be different from any other one, yet to an Eskimo, any one snowflake is not particularly special. So it is with human beings. Each one is different and yet none of us are special.
I would like to point out that not being special is much better than being special. The world that we live in today makes money off of the idea that everyone is special. Twittter, facebook, myspace, and texting all cater to this idea. With these new inventions, everyone is able to inform everyone around them of exactly what they are doing at the moment. Many people do this so much that they hardly have time to read about what other people are doing much less participate in the real world. Instead they are held prisoners in a million technological worlds in which each and every one of them is the center of the universe.
This is not how things should be, with each person being so special that they do not have time for anyone else. Sure, they may communicate with lots of people every day, but they do not have time for them in the real world where each person has real problems. Instead they are too busy thinking about their next status update to care about anyone but themselves.
But we live in the information age; times are changing and so must our life styles. We face greater challenges and more temptations than anyone before us; that is why we live the way we do. So goes the argument against me, the argument for social networking where there are a million different universes with a million different centers. “Just look at the economy,” these people will say. “It is obvious that we face more challenges today.” Perhaps the economy is worse than it was ten years ago, but look back to the Great Depression and you can see that what we are experiencing is not new. As the Bible states in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter one and verse nine, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” You see, the situation that we are in now has happened before, and it will happen again.
The only choice that we have in our lives is what we will do about the situations in which we happen to find ourselves. It will be hard to make the right choices, not because we will not know what they are but because they will not be popular. It would be much easier to just retreat into our own little worlds of technology, but that is not what we are called to do. Rather God tells us to be fishers of men and to make disciples of all nations, two tasks that we cannot accomplish when we are wrapped up in our own specialness. So you see, we need to put aside the ideas of our specialness so that we can do the work that is appointed for us to do.
Previously I made the statement that each of us is about as special as an individual snowflake is to an Eskimo. We are different than snowflakes in one important way, though. While a single snowflake does not have a large effect on anything, we can have a large and lasting effect. Consider a single match in a dark room. The flame is small, yet it still casts a great deal of light. Even so, it is not able to banish the shadows from the room; however, it is able to light a candle which can then light another candle and so on until the whole room is bathed in light. This is how people are when they make the right decision. Everyone can see the example and people will follow that example until a real difference can be seen. Therefore, in closing, I would challenge you to not take the easy way. Take the hard path, the path of truth, and you can make a difference that will be remembered.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Any feedback that you have will be helpful and very much appreciated.