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Posted May 19, 2014
I grew up in the world of privilege Mr. McCullough describes, bu
I grew up in the world of privilege Mr. McCullough describes, but only because my childhood home was located inside an upper middle class school district. I was also a victim of some pretty horrific abuse as a child, the details of which can and should remain private. With a mutilated body and soul, I was reduced to being terrified as graduation approached, terrified of going out into the world to make my own way, because I'd been dehumanized to a point where I did not believe there was any chance I could survive on my own. At the commencement, we received an address similar to Mr. McCullough's. Although I was sitting amongst the pampered and the privileged, it was the exact opposite of what I personally needed to hear. So I stayed at home in the literally horrific conditions I'd grown up in, and failed to launch into life. Several years later, my paternal grandmother asked to speak to me. Having some inkling of the environment I'd grown up in, she held my face in her hands and told me I was indeed special, created in God's image, and the owner of a unlimited potential that I needed to share with the rest of the world. Of course it was baloney, but it was what I needed to hear. I launched, and have done just fine. Amazing what impact a few minutes can have on a person's life. For the sake of those like me, please let commencement addresses be a sacred cow; let it be the one event where we don't practice tough love and pragmatism. Let it be the event where dreams remain safe, encouraged and praised and promoted.
This is a powerful and wise and incisive book, and it raises many important issues, but I listened to an audio tape of portions of Mr. McCullough's commencement speech, and while I heard laughter on occasion from the audience, it was joyless, nervous laughter. We need to let graduation ceremonies remain occasions of joy. The difficulties and hardships of life present themselves soon enough, and without fail. We discover soon enough that most of us are just faces in the crowd. We should still be launched on our journey with words of praise and encouragement..
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