Pitzer College Graduation 2024

Graduation Day

A Moment of Gratitude

My college graduation was unremarkable. I sat on a folding chair in my university’s basketball arena, listening to dull, platitude-infused speeches. There I was, eager to get out of debt and start my next chapter, but I was anxious and unsure of what I wanted to do and who I was.

A new technology called the worldwide web was coming, AIDS terrified and divided us, and awareness of South Africa’s genocidal apartheid system was growing. Around the corner, we would face an election, a recession, and war in The Middle East. 

We attended our youngest daughter’s commencement this weekend. It was outside, near the mountains, but the tight-squeeze folding chairs were still there—What can I say? Progress can be slow. 

Despite the similar and amplified uncertainties they face today, she and her fellow graduates’ energy was urgent, determined, and hopeful. They seemed ready to address their anxiety with action. 

Last week, during a long drive—I love long-drive bonding—she told me that one thing she remembers most about growing up is me telling her that life is unfair. It wasn’t the memory I had hoped would stick with her, but it is true.

In the years since my graduation, when I’ve felt overwhelmed by the unfairness in the world, I get grounded in nature and remember that the world is full of decent, like-hearted people. 

Yes, there will always be the one percenters we give too much attention to. They include hucksters, gurus, and pundits who promote scarcity and fear and grow their wealth through distraction and division. 

But just like in 1989, today, it’s not enough to think that various forms of discrimination are wrong. It takes action from decent people who come together and better an unfair world.

Each day, we have a choice to become better humans to other humans. It’s setting an intention to be brave, learn, unlearn, relearn, and witness how we treat ourselves, each other, and our planet. This choice is our power, but exercising it is hard, mindful work. The status quo is easier, but the one-percenters will create the future if we don’t learn to use it. 

Today is the first page of a new chapter for our daughter and her fellow graduates, and since every day can be day one, I’m including all of us. Many won’t acknowledge their power or say they will get to it later, but I have hope that more will begin or continue to create a powerful ripple that will benefit all of us, not just some of us. 

Until next week, have fun storming the castle!

Michael

Remember to sign up for our special event on May 15th at 9 pm Eastern. Learn how to ease the burden you carry and unpack a few of the rocks in your backpack. It’s free, and it will be good for your well-being. Please invite your friends. Please join by clicking BACKPACK.

And finally – Congratulations, Grady! Never forget how much power you have! And world, look out – her she comes!

2 Comments

  • Gerrie Dresser

    Michael, thank you for your insightful and empowering message that rings true during this time of chaos. It’s important to voice this message!

    • Michael O'Brien

      You’re welcome Gerrie – Hope all is well on your end

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