The graduation speech of J.D. Robinson, Friends School Class of 2011. He heads to McDaniel College in the fall.
Listen. Do you hear that? That’s the sound of your frontal lobe processing thought. We’re all thinking. Some of us have been thinking for a long, long time. Others have just ventured into the realm of thought. But what have we been thinking about? The future? Sometimes. The past? Well, only in History class. No, today, we think about today. The day we’ve all been waiting for. The day we officially move forward. The day we move out into this huge world that we call Earth.
However, we must remember. This Earth is not like what it was before. For the first time in history, we are said to be worse off than those before us. This Earth has become unforgiving. An Earth with a dwindling environment. An Earth of violence and death. An Earth of struggle. But this in no way means we should lose hope. Quite the opposite, actually. We are provided an opportunity. An opportunity to change, to reshape, and to rebuild. Change an Earth with a dwindling environment into one with a vibrant and sustainable one. An Earth of violence and death into one of tranquility and harmony. An Earth of struggle into an Earth of peace.
Now, you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. We’ve all had these dreams. To end war. End hunger. End deforestation. End poverty. End crime. Thanks to the past years we have been given the tools and the mindset to take steps in these directions. Possibly even leaps and bounds. But steps. Small, Mila- and Fiona-sized steps.
I used to think that the new school motto was laughable. I deemed it too pretentious and snooty in my own mind. But the more I think about those words, “The world needs what our children can do,” the more I think of the extraordinary things my fellow classmates have done, not because they felt it thrust upon them by the world, but to show the world that they haven’t turned away. They can rebuild townhouse after townhouse and give those homes to someone less fortunate. They work with food banks and homeless shelters to make sure those shelves stay stocked and that those shelters get proper equipment. They fly down to Haiti to replant trees to help recreate the lost environment, and have redoubled their efforts to help the Haitian people once again. 50 + hours between 99 students. And if the math is right, Miles spent a good hour working this equation out, that’s about 5000 hours of work for the community and the world. See? We’re making those steps already. Sure, you can say that later in life, we’re going to run out of time to be able to do these things. But time is something we don’t have to worry about.
Because Time isn’t an enemy. Nor is time a friend. Time is merely a companion. We can’t be afraid of time because it only moves one direction. And we’ve spent a lot of time here.
I’m forced to admit that these years were quite different. These weren’t just more calendar years filled with pleasure and work, happiness and sadness, gain and loss. These years have truly changed us, in every way that matters.
When I look back I don’t see days or weeks, or months or cycles or day 1’s or day 4’s. I see smiles, and laughter, and the ever so tenuous steps toward the future. Toward this day. I see my classmates grow older, wiser, more mature, and myself a little bit too. I see 2011 growing closer and closer together and becoming the family I never expected I would get, or even want. But I got them anyway, and over the years I’ve learned to accept and embrace them for who they all are. The people I will not soon forget. The people I take pride in calling my friends. The people who I will truly, dearly miss.
As I look forward to the years to come, I see it through a new perspective. Through a new set of eyes. A set of eyes that knows I have people I can trust. People I can lean on. There’s a quote from a favorite TV Show of mine. “If you can’t run, you walk. If you can’t walk, you crawl. And if you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.” I can truly say, that if I can no longer run, walk, or crawl, I can find someone in the class of 2011 to carry me. I’ll leave you with this. Take stock of the things that truly, truly matter. And I’ll see you on the other side, 2011.