Greetings, graduates of [INSERT NAME OF LEARNING INSTITUTION]! It’s a lovely day here in [LOCATION OF CEREMONY], and I am certainly thrilled to be here to give you words of inspiration as you graduate [HIGH SCHOOL, TECH SCHOOL, COLLEGE].
Before we get to that inspirational message, there is a bit of housekeeping to do. First, you have a big question to answer as you enter [COLLEGE, REAL LIFE, LIVING WITH YOUR PARENTS WHILE YOU LOOK FOR A JOB]. Are you happy with the world right now? This one question will guide your future decisions more than you think. If you’re not happy with the world, you might lash out, get disgruntled, or worse yet, become a member of Astroturf Wall Street. (That’s the name I’ve given to Occupy Wall Street because they’re bankrolled by the rich and they’re too dumb to know it.)
Yes, kids, you may think it’s a neat idea to hang out with other people of like mind regarding the evil banks and Wall Street types, but in truth, it’s not that great of a career booster. You know why? It’s the bankers and Wall Street types doing the hiring these days! Nothing spells “disappointment” like losing a great job because you decided to protest the bank for which you applied for a job. But, at least you’ll still be able to get a job at Starbucks where you can serve the bankers and Wall Street types their double mocha frappechinos.
Maybe you can go into politics and really make a difference! I wouldn’t count on it. Government isn’t in the problem-solving business because once it solves a problem, the fundraising around the problem will stop. Politicians aren’t there for you; they’re there for themselves. The sooner you learn that, the less disappointed you will be.
And while we’re here, how are those student loans working out for you? Those are coming due because Uncle Sam is just like a slumlord when it comes to getting paid back for the solid they did you so you could pay for tuition, books, and cheap beer. And if you’re just starting out with the student loan experience, enjoy the decades ahead of you paying for the tuition, books, and cheap beer.
If you are happy with the world around you, what’s wrong with you? There are problems in the world, most notably people texting and walking at the same time. Seriously, unless it’s a text from God (or, for those of you who don’t believe in God, George Clooney), pay attention to where you’re going! Is that so hard?
Okay, I’m going to get off my soap box now, but seriously, look into solving problems, kids.
If I could make one request of you, it would be this. Could you chip in for gas? If I could make a second request, it would be that you keep learning. Just because Jon Stewart says something doesn’t make it true. In fact, if you’re using a comedy show to get your news, you might want to consider turning in your diploma and working the night shift at the Waffle Shanty.
Every so often, challenge your beliefs. Pick up a book you may not have considered reading before and read it. If you want to burn it after reading, use the Kindle Fire. Just because you're leaving these hallowed halls doesn't mean your education is over. I've learned more from life than I have from hitting the books. And might I add, my knuckles didn't hurt as much.
At the end of the day, what you get out of life is what you put into it. The returns may be monetary, spiritual, or psychological, but they are there. However, don't expect them to be instantaneous. You DO have to work for the gifts you receive. Of course, if you have to work for them, they're not really gifts, are they? Well, that's something for you to figure out along the way.
Finally, I promised you an inspirational message, and here it is.
At this point in your life, you are smarter than Joe Biden.
Thank you, and congratulations, Class of 2012!