Steve Schultz: A letter to the Class of 2017

Dear Class of 2017:

You’re one second to midnight. That phrase was my father’s final warning to my siblings and me when we were doing something wrong.

It meant we better immediately correct our behavior or it was going to be our end. Looking back, I never found out what midnight was, but it feels like America is about to.

Usually in graduation speeches people tell you how to be “successful.” Well, I’m not going to do that here. It’s time you learn the truth—that you’ve been told a lie.

Who you are matters more than the job, house, car, and the social status you have. Degrees and diplomas, GPAs and 401Ks, plaques and praise are nice, but if you stop being nice to yourself and stop being nice to your neighbors in your pursuit of the things you can hang on your walls, then you haven’t really achieved anything at all.

Do you really think that in the infinite vastness of the universe that has billions of different galaxies, and as far as we can tell not a single other planet possesses anything that remotely resembles you or me, that our purpose here is to compete with each other and go to war with each other to see who can consume and accumulate the most stuff?

The truth is: We don’t need more successful people. We need more happy people who have the ability and openness to love all others.

The powers that be don’t want you to be happy though, because it’s hard to control happy people. An angry person, however, is the easiest to manipulate. I’ve never met a happy, angry person.

When did we all become so angry at everybody?