Twenty-seven years ago I began a tradition of occasionally dedicating a column in May to that year’s high school graduates.
Over the years I have attempted to share with graduates some of the things I have learned to be true. Hopefully, a thing or two I have shared has been helpful to someone but, facing the facts, when I was 18 I thought I knew it all already.
In recent years Facebook has become a major source of information, much of it worthless. However, amongst the trash you will occasionally find a tidbit of truth.
This year’s counsel to graduates will be a collection of wisdom from Facebook. No, “Facebook wisdom” is not an oxymoron. There is some good stuff out there.
To the Class of 2017, I offer the following which was all pilfered from Facebook –
“The influence of a good teacher can never be erased.” For the rest of your life many of the things you think, say or do will have been influenced by a good teacher. When you see this happening, look up that teacher and say “thanks.”
Another gem from Facebook: “A wise man once said nothing.” This one has taken me a lifetime to put to practice. In the past I thought I had to answer every stupid thing said to or about me and that often made me appear as stupid as the other fellow. I am finally learning I don’t have to respond to every comment or argument.
Mark Twain said (and Facebook repeated,) “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Think for yourself, graduates; the majority is often wrong.
“Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine.” Beware of self-aggrandizing people. I have learned that the louder the windbag, the greater the odds he or she is full of hot air.
Ravi Zacharias is my favorite Christian apologist. Facebook quoted him as saying, “We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.” As your intellectual and spiritual cognizance grows, be cautious in what you accept as truth. An old Russian proverb says, “Doveryai, no proveryai” — trust but verify. Or, as journalists like to say, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
As you are already aware, we have a mess in Washington, D.C., and in state capitols around the nation. Our precious freedoms are always under threat. Facebook recently carried a quote which said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Irish statesman Edmund Burke wrote that nearly four centuries ago and it’s still true. Be alert; be vocal.
A Facebook meme spotted a few months ago reads, “Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.” I was born with a nasty temper and, with God’s help, I have been able to keep it under control… most of the time. When I have lost my temper I have said things I regret. I have seldom regretted something I haven’t said.
Brené Brown is a brilliant young professor at the University of Houston. She was recently quoted on Facebook as saying, “You can’t do anything brave if you’re wearing the straight jacket of what will people think.” Get rid of that straight jacket and live. We all like to be liked but that should not come at the cost of being untrue to ourselves.
Along that theme, early American revolutionary Thomas Paine wrote, “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” Your character will carry you much farther in life than your reputation, which may be flawed.
Some of the most practical of the Facebook wisdom I have seen recently is a meme which stated, “You might get 85 years on this planet —don’t spend 65 paying off a lifestyle you can’t afford.”
So, there you are graduates — ten bits of advice from Facebook that can make your life a little easier in the years to come.
Commencement will happen soon. You will be so adorable in that dress… er, gown… and square hat your mother will cry. (Truth be told, your dad may tear up, too.)