on the topic of commencement

i wasn’t asked to provide an address this year but if i were, this is the one i think i would give:


thank you board of regents, dean of students, administrators, and members of the student government selection committee. but most of all, thank you class of 2014; congratulations on your graduation from such a prestigious institution and I am proud of you.

i’ve accumulated a few tidbits of knowledge over the past nearly-50-years that i would like to share with you today. may it serve you well…

as you depart for adventures into the future please understand that much of what you think you know is wrong and it will take decades for you to realize it. life is not fair and the world is not always kind. unfortunately, bell-bottoms will come back into style. youtube is addictive and adding salt to a pot of water doesn’t really make it boil that much faster.

read a book often and try different genres; for every fiction you read, read a non-fiction. pick your favorite newspaper and read it every day; on sunday, read a different paper with opposing views. buy the least expensive and most effective toilet paper. nothing constructive happens after 2am and don’t sleep past 7.

take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible. learn a skill that would add value to you, your family, neighbors, or society. the probability of an asteroid impacting the earth is real and if it doesn’t wipe out every living thing, possessing such a skill will add value to your contribution and help keep you alive.

plastic bags, guns, and drugs are not inherently evil; there are, however, inherently evil people who abuse them. donate to charity whether it’s your time, money or object you no longer need. spend a christmas day volunteering at a kitchen. go for a walk after lunch, dinner or both. never pay for expedited shipping unless you really really need to.

the media – all media, including social – is designed to influence your thinking and your spending. be cautiously optimistic in what you hear and read. anything that sounds too good to be true usually is. caveat emptor.

listen to music and develop eclectic favorites. go to museums. get your passport and travel the world as much as you can. eat what the locals eat, celebrate their customs, enjoy their arts. commit random acts of kindness and be friendly to your neighbors even when they aren’t. don’t shut off their water main in the middle of the night just because you think it would be funny. adding dish soap to the city hall fountain in a daring late-night executed feat of masterful planning will likely end in your arrest.

if you’re not using it and it’s in stand-by mode, unplug it. it will save you money on your electric bill. don’t waste water when you brush your teeth, shave, or water your garden. by the way, brush your teeth, shave, and grow a garden – even if it’s a small one.

go see a play. try the opera and a musical on broadway. go watch a high school game — basketball, baseball, football, volleyball, or any other event. cheer both teams. learn to be a graceful winner and when you loose, which you will, loose with grace and dignity. say may i, excuse me, please, thank you, and you’re welcome. say good morning to strangers. smile big when you can.

pay cash when you can; now that you’re likely in deep debt from school bills, pay it off quickly and avoid future debt when at all possible. learn what BATNA is and understand your own. be friendly. be kind. be respectful of other people, others’ property, and opinions. the moral majority is neither.

arrogance is disdainful. there is a difference between cocky and capable. smart is not the same as clever. in vegas, luck really does win over skill. most everything fun and pleasurable is bad for you or someone else. learn moderation. don’t tell others’ secrets and if you don’t want your own spilled, don’t have any.

unless you’re confined within the boundaries of mayberry, your government is not a democracy. neither is the economic system of the u.s. the greatest conceived. the both we have just happen to be preferable to the alternatives. if you become a politician, don’t be greedy and remember you’re supposed to be a public servant.

walk around naked in your house. learn how to shine your own shoes and learn how to use a needle and thread to put a button back on. but don’t do all three at the same time.

pretty is good but smart is better. laugh, live, and love. and above all, to quote Winston Churchill, never, never, never give up.

thank you all and congratulations once again.




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