The Burden of the Class of ’22
It was a brutal time to be in college. The brutality isn't over.
The busiest spot in George Floyd Square may now be the bus shelter-used clothing emporium. People sometimes walk past the memorial mural without glancing up. As long as so many people can’t afford clothes, that’s not surprising.
No matter what your commencement speakers told you, your best post-graduation objective is not “to follow your bliss.”
Those people must not have been paying attention. You have.
Your college career spanned four years of the most traumatic national events in the last 75. You were robbed of much of the joy of college. And it ain’t looking like the shining city on the hill is right around the corner.
You have been smacked in the face by this, and you got ticked off. You should probably stay ticked off.
You need to fight. It’s unfair, but you really have no choice. Tag, you’re it.
Sorry, but it's not the best time to settle into a nice life with the picket fence, Caribbean vacations and money market accounts.
Most of those older than you already did that and are now afraid that fighting the power will mean they risk losing all their stuff. So everything may depend on people who don’t yet have much stuff to lose.
Bliss is no longer personal. It’s collaborative. Its new definition should probably be about the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve done our best to ensure we won’t all have to kiss our asses goodbye before our time.
That sense of dread that built up in your gut over the last few years? That was real. Ignoring it to seek temporal comfort would be delusional. The Good Life will be rendered meaningless by the enormous shitstorm that’s on the way.
Recent college graduates like you may have a greater role in the nation’s future than ever before.
You’re the intellectual bulwark against the third of your country’s citizens who have built their worldview upon bunkum. These rubes are not hampered because they’re outnumbered. They’re actually the strongest faction there is.
They stick to their guns more than the smart people. Literally.
People like you who believe in logic and science change your minds as facts change. Those who trust on faith what charlatans profess are unlikely to reverse course. Facts are not an issue for them.
And their ranks are growing.
Every year, fewer people, especially men, are attending college. Part of the reason is that some think campuses are generating soft-headed, unrealistic ideas. Whether they’re right or wrong, their education avoidance means they’re even less likely to give up any of the boneheaded concepts that rattle around in their heads.
Your contribution to the social contract may be a matter of life and death.
You know that people will continue to die because they’re the wrong complexion, faith or sexual orientation. More will die because of not having control over their own bodies and health solutions, and from hunger and homelessness.
And innocent folks will continue to die because well-armed people have bad aim.
Lots of us will be killed by the approaching threat of our own climate. And all of us may be exterminated in idiotic wars.
Devoting yourself to saving the world doesn’t mean you have to starve or become a hapless wage slave.
You can support yourself decently and help save the Earth, too.
In college, how many times did you operate on three hours sleep, to study or party or work? And operate well?
You can still do that. You’re at the height of your physical powers, if you're like most people your age.
If you don’t rescue the world, what do you picture doing with these best years of your lives?
Most of you are in no hurry to have families. And waiting to have kids later isn’t that bad, anyway. You’ll somehow find the gas. I painted the nursery when I was 43.
You’ve worked hard, and you want and deserve a break. But every calorie you expend now in the defense of your planet and way of life may save 1,000 you’ll need later.
After World War I, lots of horrified people took a breather from lives of purpose. They trusted that such bad stuff would never be allowed again. So the young members of The Lost Generation wasted their time instead of getting to work fixing a broken planet.
It turned out they only had a decade of their lives to throw away before all hell broke loose.
It’ll be a shorter respite this time. Hell has better technology now.
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Another troubling winner, Irv. Our oldest grandson graduates from Glenbrook North in 2 weeks. He'll start his college career overseas ... exposed to a lot of wealthy people, diverse cultures and other smart, hungry students from 120 or more countries. We're anxious of what the next 4-8 years look like. Hoping he has a backbone, wisdom and mature insights beyond his years and the protective cocoon of growing up in Northbrook to thrive and make a difference..
Brutal but honest