Thursday, May 29, 2008


Not to draw attention to own personal accomplishments, but since I'm graduating from Valley Oaks Charter School this week, I figured now was probably as good a time as any to give all the graduates out there my hearty "congratulations!" This is truly is a time to look back at what we've learned and accomplished, and, above all, to thank God for all the knowledge and privileges (specifically education, time, and determination) that he has blessed us with.

I've also prepared a speech to deliver at my graduation ceremony, so I'll deliver that here. Before you start, though, let me clarify a thing or two. My dad read through my speech and was concerned that I may have exhibited some postmodern tendencies when talking about truth. He seemed to get the impression that I was saying truth was subjective or decided by us. I can assure you THAT IS NOT THE CASE. I firmly believe that truth is absolute and transcendent. The main thrust of that section of the speech was that: 1. The concept of truth is controversial and uncertain in our society to day 2. We, as the next generation, will be the ones deciding how truth is determined, perceived, and defined 3. Therefore, we'd better be sure we get this whole "truth" thing right.

That's all I was trying to say. Whether we come to an accurate, biblical, understanding of the truth is another question all together. Clearly, this generation is currently making a huge mistake when it comes to truth, they are redefining it, obscuring it, and killing it, and that is their choice. They will, however, be judged for it, and our society is already starting to show the consequences of their decisions.

The other issue is that I do place great emphasis on people's choices, decisions, etc. in the speech. Calvinists, please do not fear, I am a firm "five-pointer," and I tried to carefully watch my wording in those sections. There is no question that we make decisions and are responsible for our decisions. However, I believe that God is sovereign over and through our decisions and he will ultimately decide where the ideas and values of mankind go, but that does not exempt us from our responsibility to do the right thing.

*inhales* Okay, that said, pretty much any high school (or possibly college) graduate is included in the overall intended audience of the speech. Hopefully someone will find it helpful and/or inspiring. Here it is:

To all the parents, teachers, friends, and family present tonight, allow me to extend a hearty “good evening”. And to my fellow graduates: I offer not only a “good evening” but my sincere “congratulations”!

I would very much like to reflect upon the great accomplishments of the students here tonight, and I would very much like to recollect all the great memories that I have accumulated while attending Valley Oaks Charter School. I’m sure it has been a long road of ups and downs for all of the graduates here tonight. Indeed, there is no question that you all have an excellent reason to be proud and satisfied at this moment. While we have, perhaps, encountered few obstacles larger than a Senior Seminar project, throughout the past four years, high school is a mountain in and of itself. It is a race of endurance, a marathon that requires years of preparation and plenty of help and support along the way. So first and foremost I want to make it clear that every student who will be walking across the stage this evening has definitely accomplished something special, and so I repeat my assertion: congratulations to each and every one of you.

That said, though, I also believe that a high school graduation merits not only a satisfied look backwards, but a hard, calculated look forward. Keeping your eye on the prize is a valid philosophy to live by in school, but our diplomas tonight are not the final be all and end all. They are not the ultimate grand prize we could ever hope to achieve (though it may have at times seemed like that to some of you). On the contrary, our diplomas are but another stepping stone in this grand obstacle course known as life. The thing that differentiates this proverbial checkpoint from the others in life, though, is that today we are suddenly endowed with great responsibilities and new privileges. This is not your eighth grade graduation where “everything counts now” (no disrespect to 8th graders). No, everything is now. We are all adults, or will be very soon; we are the next generation; we are the future of the amazing nation known as the United States of America. My fellow graduates, it does not matter whether you are destined for college, the military, or the workforce. We have all inherited great privileges, great rights, and great freedoms, but along with these we have also inherited great responsibility. It is up to you as individuals, it is up to us as a people, and it is up to us as the next wave of humanity, to decide who we are and who we will become. I hope you all realize that we do live in an era of great and tumultuous change, and I hope you all realize who is responsible for shaping the future of these changes.

For example, several months ago, I visited The Master’s College, which I will be attending this fall, and I was given the privilege of sitting in on several classes there. One of these classes happened to be some sort of a theology or philosophy course, and the professor, a Dr. Brian Morley, was talking about the concept of truth in our society. Eventually, he got into the different ways we determined truth and how we perceive truth in our lives, and while I cannot, unfortunately, remember his exact words, he did make the point that the notion of truth is a very debatable and, how should I put it, “chaotic” subject today. He also said that we, the students in that class and society as a whole, will therefore be the ones deciding how truth is perceived and defined in the future. I want you to think about that for a moment. We are talking about the core principles that people live by; the essential values that hold society together will, either directly or indirectly, be decided by us, you! Misunderstanding something like this could result in disastrous consequences. That, my fellow graduates, is an awesome responsibility.

At this point, some of you may be thinking “Oh, well that’s fine for you to say, but I’m just going to be another Army recruit” or “I’m just another construction worker.” To that I would respond: “And your point is?” Sure, you may not be the next president, bestselling author, rock star, or Olympic athlete, but you are a thinking, responsible, and important person nonetheless. Each of us, however insignificant we may seem, is capable of changing the world in some way. We need to realize that who we are and who we will be as people and as Americans is not going to be decided by politicians on Capitol Hill. No, it’s going to be decided by those of us in this room, and the deciding starts right now. If you look back over American history, you will find that the great social movements did not come from the political rulers of the day, they came from the people, from the masses. The abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, even the Revolutionary War came primarily from the people because the people wanted change. This great nation of ours was created of the people, by the people, and for the people, and I firmly believe that the future soul, the very core of America, is rooted in the hearts and minds of these young people here tonight.

I’ll admit it right now: I searched long and hard for a quote by some famous person that would tie in nicely with my message tonight, and after vainly searching for some time, I was reminded of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. This song is called Madmen and was written by a band called Wavorly, the second verse and chorus read:

"No excuses, the time for change is here and now
This is the real adventure
To move past what’s mediocre
Obsessed with entertainment
Step up or miss the point of it

We say that we’re the future
Only want it if it goes our way
The time we have is crucial
Will we put this off another day?"

It is important that we do not forget that the time for change is now, and the time we have is indeed crucial. By all means, please, relish the moment like a lifelong milestone; remember this day like you would any other wonderful occasion; and be satisfied that you have successfully arrived at the end of the very long and important journey called high school. All I ask is that you remember the fact that you are a vital part of the future, and you cannot put this responsibility off another day. Congratulations graduates, for today officially marks the end, of your beginning.

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