"You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye…"
- Graham Nash
Last Saturday we graduated our son and 61 of his friends from high school. It was a commencement full joy and tears. There was the traditional hymn of welcome as the seniors entered the gym. It begins:
"In heavenly love abiding
No change my heart shall fear
For safe is such confiding
For nothing changes here…"
This is the part where I usually cry. But this year I didn't. I know these young men and women. I know their hearts, their dreams, their concerns and their hopes. They were ready. I wasn't ready for them to switch their tassels and launch out far beyond the coffeehouse I often run into them at, but they are more than ready to change the world they live in through service to others and ethical choices.
There were inspirational readings and speeches, more songs and the distribution of diplomas…but it was this statement, from one of the members of the Class of 2007, that I scribbled (I learned a long time ago, that when kids talk…have a pen ready) onto my blue and gold embossed program:
"The only failure is not taking the risk to serve."
This axiom from Zachary Lee Barron (make note of this name, I am certain that you will see it again) symbolized, for me, the heart of this generation. It is a message that they bring to the table for each of us…young, and those with more calendar days under our belts…to chew on, digest, and hopefully assimilate into our very being. It is this message that they breathe into the atmosphere of their future and I intend to inhale deeply.
Zach went on to quote Nelson Mandela (a man who didn't join a peace movement..but IS one) in his riveting remarks and, for me, time stood still. This young man is the offspring of my generation, the "make love, not war" children of the 70s…but with an added grace and a fire in his belly for reform that is tempered by wisdom. I know Zach and his friends…they will make a difference. They give me great hope that it is possible to turn the tide of self-indulgent consumerism and bad boy/girl-based celebrity around. They'll make service to others, the ethical use of resources, and personal integrity a tsunami-like catalyst for change.
"…And you of tender years
Can't know the fears
That your elders grew by
And so please help Them
with your youth
They seek the truth…"
So, as I walked out of McCalmont Gymnasium on June 5, 2007, the future looked brighter. I clutched my program with Zach's statement scribbled on it, to my heart…it was 1972 and 2007 all at once. No, they can never fully know what fears we have faced down in getting from there to here…but perhaps we have provided them with waymarks, a rallying cry, and some very strange costumes along the road towards their own peace movement. And maybe, just maybe…if we leave our bell bottoms and love beads in the attic…they will let us join them…shoulder to shoulder as they lead the way. If their code is "The only failure is not taking the risk to serve", I want a to march with them all along the way.
"...Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you..."
Thanks Zach…and to the Class of 2007 – wherever you are around the world - please ,
with love, hope, and expectation,