by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Without even a by-your-leave I am taking upon myself one of the most pleasant duties of aging: advising others how to live a better life than one has had oneself. Such advice giving may be a form of expiation for sins we were strenuously urged (by our self-selected guides) not to commit… but did, along with many other happy paths to perdition we found all by ourselves and enjoyed immensely.
First of all, please accept my apology for not attending this important event in your young life. The truth is, travel, which was once my unadulterated joy, is no longer such a pleasure. I am too old to relish the employees of Homeland Security asking me to divest myself of my clothes in the interest of American security. I appreciate their zealousness in pursuit of terrorists, but I look what I am: a well-heeled gentleman of refined taste, without a balaclava or hand grenade to my name. Homeland Security no doubt sees the obvious as the perfect cover for conspiracy.
In any event, my physical presence will not be present at your Commencement, and I regret this, especially the moment when your university president, or comparable big-wig, declares (as they do at Harvard) that you are now a member of the company of educated men and women. That is a magnificent achievement and deserves to be noted by all who love and care about you. With the great world growing increasingly uneducated… and with such standards upon which we prided ourselves… now reckoned elitist and archaic, I want you to know that entry into that company is and always will be one of the chiefest achievements of your life, no matter how long you live and what you achieve hereafter. You belong amongst these people and they will constitute the pool from which you draw your friends, your professional colleagues, the woman you eventually marry and, of course, your relations. You understand these people; they understand you and these things become more and more valuable as time goes on.
Know thyself, the complete self.
You have just completed a term of years in which you had ample time for the study of yourself; who you are, where you come from, where you wish to go and why.. Now, upon what is aptly termed commencement, this study will accelerate and will never conclude. However, to know yourself, you must know the people from which you came and who created you, a mosaic of them and their far-flung lives.
Amongst your relations, you number the most important Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall; also Harold Macmillan, Earl of Stockton, sometime Prime Minister of England. You are also the scion of cosmopolitan European aristocrats; indeed in the fullness of time, you will become a prince with an ancient title and a host of other titles of nobility. Your history is also replete with clergymen, pioneers, educators, business people, and many who arduously tilled the soil and planted carefully and well.
I tell you these things because in this day and age it is unfashionable to speak of the manifold genetic strands that produced — you. Our day and age celebrates the so-called common man. But we, Burlesons, Burgesses, MacMillans, Lants, Lauings and all the rest believed in constantly striving to go beyond, well beyond, the common; the better to achieve unstinted excellence. You are the product of excellence; we all hope and know that you will give us more of it…and so instruct your children to come in how to achieve it, too.
Now some practical advice.
You are a sensible fellow, good looking, intelligent, agile. This is all to the good. But these suggestions will enhance these attributes.
1) Be friendlier, more affable, the exemplar of the best of manners.
You are of a withdrawn disposition, tending to keep your counsel. This is admirable, but it is insufficient for living well amongst the other members of our species. Many of these people have not had your many advantages; they therefore look to you for the words and gestures of welcome and hospitality, commonly called manners, which make living amongst humans as pleasant as our species of carnivores and raptors allows.
You have come from leaders; leadership is in your blood. In no way does such leadership manifest itself better than with superior manners, for what are such manners after all than kindness and making others feel always comfortable around you, no matter what the matter at hand.
Good manners do not mean that you necessarily agree with people, but it means you respect them and wish to learn, sincerely, their dispositions and points of view. Good manners are the emoluments by which civilized people ease the lives of those they encounter and so ease their own lives.
2) Thank the people who help you, never forget their services and affection.
You are an able young man, able to do many things for yourself… but never all. Every person of insight and intelligence comes, inevitably, to agree with British poet John Donne (1572-1621) that “no man is an island unto himself”. You are the product of a variable army of good, decent, hard-working people who gave of themselves to shape you and make you the man you are today. These people deserve and should be amply given acknowledgement, recognition, thanks and, above all else, kindness. This is your responsibility now and for the rest of your life. Never wait for these people to contact you… contact them and be lavish in your expressions of thanks, for they have all worked to a single purpose, to craft, mold and improve. Your graduation makes it clear they succeeded.
3) Never forget, always remember, and always honor family.
This is a world where we are all vulnerable, endangered. Thus we must always consider how to preserve ourselves and flourish. In this equation there is one variable that never varies; the fundamental importance of family, the people who are of you, for you, by you. In this regard I have a paradox for your consideration. Now that you have graduated leave home as soon as possible, the better to come to know, understand and appreciate your immediate family as well as members of its branches.
The longer you stay at home, the longer you will be treated as an adolescent, not a man. Clashes under such circumstances are inevitable and will both pain and exasperate everyone. My cordial advice therefore, transforming Horace Greeley’s famous exhortation, “Go anywhere, young man, go anywhere.” Distance will not only make the heart grow fonder; it will enable you to see all the principals, in a new, more humane light, and so move into a more productive and affectionate phase with all.
One last request: communicate better and oftener with your scribbling Uncle Jeffrey. He always means you well and understands the importance of tangible affection. A small congratulatory check is herewith enclosed. Uncles understand the importance of providing funds towards the noble objective of more profound communications and understanding.
Remember this, thy college graduation day.
Do not miss a single part of the ceremony; take photos liberally; see the scene as it is, a pageant celebrating you and your classmates all over this land beset by high challenges and often enfeebled visions. We need you, all of you. And so if this day, a la Winston Churchill, is not yet the beginning of the end; it is most assuredly the end of the beginning… and is replete with hope, sorely needed, its limited supply now to be rectified by you, all of you.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.
Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer http://SuccessClicks.com. Check out Info Cash -> http://khdfshops.cpc100.hop.clickbank.net