Addressing the Interrupted Class of 2024

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Addressing the Interrupted Class of 2024
Addressing the Interrupted Class of 2024

One thing that characterizes the Class of 2024 is that it has suffered from continual interruptions. Big interruptions, small interruptions, cultural interruptions, and i-interruptions seemed to conspire to deprive this class of the constancy that others enjoyed.

Several such interruptions come to mind.

The interrupted Class of 2024 saw its final school years interrupted by the immense tragedy and trauma of COVID. The mishandling of the crisis interrupted its members’ schooling and shook their convictions in American institutions and ways of doing things.

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Class members saw the nation interrupted by rioting, polarization, and civil strife, which are rarely seen in American history and continue to the present.

Their education was interrupted by experiments like Critical Race Theory, gender ideology, Common Core, and so many other educational programs that now include Drag Queen exposure that weaponizes the classrooms and school libraries.

The endless interruptions of smartphones, social media and messaging do so much to interfere with education and communications skills.

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Even the practice of the Faith was interrupted by the abuses of government directives that closed down churches, confessionals and sacramental life. Some members never returned.

If all this was not enough, as the final months of this school year came to a close, many colleges and schools experienced the interruption of the Gaza War protests that appeared on campuses everywhere, canceling classes, graduations—and people.

These protests cast a heavy shadow over all students, judged by the actions of those few students and outside agitators who sought in vain to recreate the dark magic of the sixties or relive the macabre chaos of the Occupy Wall Street encampments.

A Different Message

The whirlwind of all these interruptions has impacted the Class of 2024, increasing anxieties, fears and loneliness. It has created a generation with limited attention that lacks certainties and meaning.

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Thus, this year’s graduation message and counsels must address this interrupted world and avoid the bubbly optimism that usually dominates graduation themes. This class is faced not with endless opportunities for advancement but non-stop disruptions that cloud its future.

Do not Deny the Reality of the Interruption

Thus, the first counsel for this class would be to recognize the reality of this interruption. Do not deny its existence or importance. Do not make it a way of life as one who flutters about from interruption to interruption without defining any goal in life.

See it as a characteristic of the present crisis, not personal shortcomings. Do not use interruption as an excuse not to achieve personal or family goals. Instead, challenge and denounce it when entering the next phase of life.

The interrupted Class of 2024 must fight against these disruptive forces, especially those in the culture war that conspire against its future.

Seek Out Order

A second counsel is to seek out order. Order is the state of things when everything functions according to its nature and end. As Russell Kirk said, “Order is the first need of the soul.” It is the foundation that allows the person to deal with adversity and interruption.

Seek out order, especially Christian order, wherever it is to be found, whether it be making a bed or a living. Find order in vocation, family, communities and the Faith. These are God-given institutions to anchor and give order to the individual who must face the world.

Be aware that postmodernity denies and hates order, especially Christian order—the only true one. Today’s culture holds that things should not function according to their nature and end. Things are whatever they identify to be—and usually what they are not. The culture bids people to give in to their most unbridled and dark passions that work against their nature and end. They are encouraged to embrace sin, that great disorder that offends God.

Thus, accept the challenge of being thrust into this world of sin and disorder and the obligation to fight for Christian order. At this point, it is not an option but a matter of survival in an interrupted world.

Seek Out Contingency

Seek contingency. Depend on others. Such advice goes against everything that is taught about the ideal of the self-sufficient, self-made individual who does everything without others.

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However, graduation should be a time to stress that all individuals are contingent beings. In school, students depend on faculty and friends to advance and achieve. Education used to be about building upon the knowledge and wisdom of others, past and present.

The recent interruptions only make contingency more relevant. People now need other people more. No one can be totally self-sufficient. People depend upon others to reach their full potential. Therefore, it is good to be contingent.

The individualist man believes his autonomy is such that he recognizes no natural limits or weaknesses of his fallen nature. In times of crisis like the present, the self-made man breaks down in the reality of his insufficiency, ever ready to be bailed out by an indulgent government.

The modern world hates and destroys contingencies and puts extreme individualism in its place. It creates a kind of self-inebriation in which people elevate themselves to the status of a sort of demigod. Such illusions always end in anxiety and desolation since human nature is not made to be like demigods.

Thus, the Interrupted Class of 2024 would do well to embrace contingency not as a weakness but as a strength as it enters its interrupted world. Contingency empowers by creating bonds of mutual aid, protection and affection, which the present crisis only makes more necessary.

Confidence in Providence

None of these counsels makes sense if limited to a natural, secular world.

Indeed, graduations are often worldly affairs that celebrate the natural abilities of individuals and their “infinite possibilities and career paths.” Individualism puts the graduate in the center of a world. God, if mentioned at all, is an inconvenient interruption amid the festivities.

People forget that God, our Creator, is the source of all order. Humanity’s greatest contingency is directed toward Him, from which His Divine Providence provides for all. Graduation is a celebration of how God provided for the graduates to reach this milestone. It should also be a time of introspection for the road ahead.

Graduates must now use the talents, skills, and passions they have developed in the pursuit of their studies under Divine Providence’s watchful care.

Based on this foundation, they must make decisions and act on them since they will direct the course of their lives. Alas, this is not the time to put off these decisions or extend their adolescence beyond adulthood in the basements of their parents’ houses.

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Thus, 2024 graduates, put away the gadgets and interruptions, and listen to the calling of God, Who will indicate in the silence of prayer and reflection a path forward. Confide in Providence. Follow the indicated path, even if it be difficult.

The trials and sufferings of this time of trauma have prepared the road ahead for those of this class who have profited from these crosses to learn lessons and build character. Let them walk firmly ahead.

Thus, with order, contingency and confidence in Providence, the Interrupted Class of 2024 will be equipped to overcome the interruptions, confront the culture and face the future.

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