Monday, May 22, 2017

Commencement Words

Gradual adj.—almost imperceptible steps or degrees; developing little by little
Graduate vt.—to mark with degrees for measuring; to arrange in grades, or stages
Graduate vi.—to change, or advance, by degrees
Graduation n.—the ceremony connected with commencement
Commencement n.—the act or time of commencing; beginning; start

Above are not the obvious, or standard, definitions of these words, during this season when schools give out diplomas.

These are the background definitions that offer additional meaning. I think it’s helpful to notice that graduation is just a marker in a progression of almost imperceptible degrees. Like having a birthday—it marks becoming a year older, but it happens when you’re only one day older than the day before.
A high school or college graduate is only a single day wiser than the day before. But the event marks the beginning—the commencement—of life after that mark of progress.

So it’s a tradition during this season to talk about advice for those who are commencing with the rest of adulthood.

A year or so ago, PragerU offered a commencement address by Mike Rowe called “Don’t Follow Your Passion.” Worth taking 5 minutes for.

I’ve blogged here about commencements a couple of times, when my children Economic Sphere and Social Sphere graduated from BYU, and we heard some good words at their ceremonies.

Daughter Social Sphere and her husband were somewhere
in the crowd of 6000 graduates back in 2015

Today I’ll add just a few pieces of advice from someone who commenced from high school in the bicentennial year, and from college in the year Reagan was elected President, with the perspective of the Spherical Model.

·         Keep learning. Formal education was just to teach you how to learn; now you’re commencing to do the real learning. Becoming educated is something you never grow out of.
·         Any time you have an opportunity to learn to play a new musical instrument or speak a new language, do it.
·         Read. At least a book a month. More is better. Fiction and nonfiction. And talk about it afterward with someone else who has read it or might want to. This is in addition to reading news, articles, blogs, or other short pieces that the internet is full of. Books are lasting knowledge, and you want that learning to last inside your head.
·         You’re made up of a full person: physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual. Keep all these parts of yourself healthy and balanced.
·         Work is what you’ll do to make money to live. If you can, find work that will be interesting to you, of service to the world, and make enough money to let you live comfortably.
·         Living is about relationships with friends and family. Never let the means to living (the work) stop you from doing the living—especially spending quality time with your spouse and children. And don’t put off relationships until the work life is everything you could want it to be.
Commencement day for the whole family:
Social Sphere and family in 2015

·         You’re on track to leave the lower income levels behind. Here’s the formula for the middle-class in America or higher: graduate from high school; don’t have sex before age 20; don’t have sex before marriage; stay married.
·         Make memories. Include travel, or recreational activities with your family and friends. And tell stories so those memories stay alive.
·         Take your citizenship responsibilities seriously. If you don’t choose who governs you and how, someone else chooses.
·         Take voting seriously. Study the ballot ahead of time. If you don’t know enough to make an informed decision, don’t guess. Everyone else has to suffer when you get the answers wrong.
·         Be cautious about where you’re getting your news. Most is biased. You’re probably better off getting news from someone who reveals their bias than from a biased reporter who claims to be unbiased. Use multiple sources. Keep an open mind. Question emotional reactions to news. Use good sense. And love the truth, no matter where it leads.
·         Be open-minded and cautiously skeptical, but don’t give in to cynicism. Cynics like the appearance of world-weary intellectualism, but it’s fake. Be better than that. Optimism and curiosity will take you further.
·         The further away from big city centers you live, the more people feel confident that they can do things on their own, and government should mostly get out of the way. If you have to live in an urban center, get out to real country frequently, so you don’t start thinking helplessness and reliance on government are normal.
·         The person who earns the money ought to decide how to spend it. Anyone who tells you differently approves of theft, so beware.
·         Rights come from God, not government. Government is only necessary to protect those rights, all of which are related to life, liberty, and ownership of property—which is the result of how a person freely spends their life. Rights are never something that’s nice to have but can be purchased; if it’s something that has to be purchased, it’s a product of service. Any product or service that you insist should be free requires someone to spend their life and liberty providing it for you; that makes you a slaver.
·         The Ten Commandments teach us to honor God, life, family, property, and truth. That’s still good advice three thousand years later.
·         Make sure God is a part of your life decisions. Fear means you’re putting all the burden on yourself; let go of that and trust God, so that fear doesn’t keep you from making the most of your life.
·         Listen to how you talk to yourself. If you hear yourself criticizing or putting yourself down, stop that talk. Don’t talk that way to other people either. Lift yourself, and lift others.
·         Hard times are going to come. Some of them you may bring on yourself, despite your good decisions up until now; change your thoughts and behaviors, and things will improve. Some hard times come anyway. If you know God loves you and you regularly get in tune with Him, He’ll guide you through. And somehow in the end those things will be for your good, and might make you better prepared to help others through their hard times.
·         Tithe. Pay 10% or more of your income to charity. It helps you feel grateful for what you have; it helps you organize your money better; and it helps you love God and others more and love money less.
·         Start saving now. Compounding interest is practically magical after a few decades. The longer the better.

If you had already arrived at some educated destination, you wouldn’t be needing this advice. But you’re not at a destination; you’re at a beginning. So, commence, and make it good. We, here, in civilization, are pulling for you.

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