Recently, there has been a YouTube that has gone viral of a high school commencement address offered by faculty member David McCullough Jr. at Wellesley High School.
He had the audacity to suggest that “if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.” (Full tezt)
McCullough suggests that we have cheapened worthy endeavors… (That)building a Guatemalan medical clinic (has) become more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.
Tina Brown editorializes for Newsweek suggesting that ‘Today’s kids inhabit a world where the cultural hype they have been fed at home and at school about how wonderful they are is about to meet a rude comedown. The anthem they will hear after the champagne corks pop at graduation is not so much America the beautiful as America the beaten.
Bowed down by a decade’s worth of college debt, these kids are going to have to be pretty special—and very lucky—to live anywhere near as well as their parents did.” Brown insists that “nothing about their upbringing prepared them for this. Perhaps we should allow them one last summer of grand illusion.’
McCullough goes on to suggest that young people take on adventures and challenges not to fluff their resume or facebook status, but to that the opportunity to sieze the moment now and gain personally and spiritually from it. In Catholic youth ministry, we often refer to John Paul II’s quote that we need “to invite and to welcome the person who seeks a purpose for which to commit his whole existence; a Church which is not afraid to require much, after having given much; which does not fear asking from young people the effort of a noble and authentic adventure, such as that of the following of the Gospel.” Until our culture moves more towards adventure for its own sake, that invitation will seem empty.
When that does happen, McCullough suggests that we “will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.”