The Commencement Speech I’ll Never Give

CU-Cap-and-Gown.jpgThe month of May rolls around and the roles of college students changes from those who’s absorbed to now those who will share.  Many will look for jobs, others may have secured theirs and still others may be prone to further their education or just wonder about it at a nearby Starbucks.  This is the speech I’ll never be invited to give.

“Graduates, faculty, trustees, family and most importantly parents.  Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home again.  You’ve lived in a home created just for you for some 22 years but now it is time to create your own home which is not always a brick structure but it is truly a place.

That most of us here have shoes older than you are is not to put you down but to invite you into a perspective that is always broader than yourself.  1992 you were born.  Bill Clinton was president and your fist dose of leadership was a sexual foray of entitlement.  Since then he’s turned out to be a pretty decent guy as is the hope for all of you gathered here today.

More than likely, your parents did not take you to church often because they wanted you to find your own faith which is pretty difficult when there is no foundation to build upon.  In that regard I blame them for their oversight which says more about them then it does their parenting skills.  But not to worry, newly graduated folks, that yearning and emptiness that you will sometimes feel as an adult is a trigger that is requesting your undivided attention.  That trigger is the alert telling you that life is more than only you.

All the helmets and backpacks, seat belts, child seats, strollers (with AM/FM radio) and safety precautions your parents have inflicted upon you are now removed as you venture toward risk, challenges, and dreams with many of them full of failures and rejections.

You’ve successfully clicked your way through high school and college, sometimes using only two fingers.  I envy you but I would never want to copy you.  Remember please that nothing will nor can replace looking someone in the eye while relaying a story instead of using those two fingers of yours.  Nothing can replace a personally written note of sympathy to a friend instead of some Internet card with butterflies roaming the edges.  Nothing can replace the maturity of sincerely telling a lover that you are moving on instead of telling another friend on Facebook.

Never can mistaken communication with intimacy.  Never mistaken the easy road for the one that is honest.  Because, so often now, personal honesty is the only honesty we can trust.

Technology keeps telling us “we are in control” as though we are in control.  Illusions abound.  You’ve all grown up with Harry Potter so I hope you know how the power of illusion can illusion a lazy mind.

You and I are not in control except when it comes to our telling comments, statements and reflections that are shared with close friends.  And they are done in person, one to one.  You’ve watched more television than any generation before you and are apt to be more sarcastic than anyone your age has been.  Sarcasm only rises with experience and yours is just beginning.  If you’ve watching too much “Glee” then you’ve missed out on “Breaking Bad.”

Watch them both and allow a synthesis to occur.  Synthesis.  I fear it is a lost word in our U.S. culture.  We hear, digest and repeat but I fear that we rarely, if ever, synthesize.  That word provides the end of two previous words.  The first is a gathering of thoughts, the second is an opposition to those thoughts and the third, the synthesis, is what lives within you and then becomes future comments or commitments or promises or pledges or allegiances or obligations or even passing whims.

The home that you will now create is within you.  Create it carefully; fill it with worthwhile memories, potentials and dreams.  Guard it with your life because it is your life that will unfold because of what you’ve created.

I’ve haven’t mentioned Jesus Christ, God or His mom.  Figure that out for yourself but know that your home can house many rooms, many chambers, many nooks that contain gems yet to be unfolded or known but are still precious and worthy of your attention.

Be glad that you cannot be home because now you’re able to create a home of your own – person hood, authentic, sincere and worthy of the life you acknowledge this happy day.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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1 Response to The Commencement Speech I’ll Never Give

  1. Sears, Karri says:

    This was really well done Joe…enjoyed reading it….karri


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