Rarely have graduates faced challenges like those that fall upon the class of 2020. They entered the school year in one America, and now come out in another. The new graduates will be forced to navigate in uncharted waters.
Thus, this graduation will not be like those of the past. Most graduations were celebrations of an education that prepared graduates for an expected future. Seniors usually entered into paths already blazed before them. Thus, commencement speeches varied little from year to year or even from generation to generation. There was the usual mix of bubbly optimism, sage advice and cautious warnings.
A New Situation Awaits
None of that applies anymore. Today’s graduates will not even have the luxury of a traditional ceremony. Their celebrations will be live-streamed, masked, and distanced. They face a terrifying specter given to them not by choice but by circumstances.
The immensity of this Depression-like crisis is mind-boggling. Today’s graduates will not be prepared. It is not their fault, for nobody knows how to deal with this future. Indeed, the 2020 class might think itself “unfortunate” to graduate during this tragic time.
These three pieces of advice might help graduates in the uncertain days ahead.
The first counsel is mature quickly. Abandon the childish narratives that have long dominated youth culture, even after graduation. The unfortunate circumstances will demand this.
Graduates have long been encouraged to extend their youth by indulging in self-gratification. With the crisis, the culture and infrastructure that made this possible will be devastated. Adapt by maturing quickly.
Gone should be the days of “adulting” in which graduates could afford to put off the decisions of adulthood and behave with irresponsibility. Abandon the “party culture” that favors the unbridled passions and fails to consider higher reasons for existence. The time of the snowflake is over. Few will have patience in the age of nothing to listen to the complaints of those who feel entitled to everything.
When things collapse, childish narratives no longer are an option. The class of 2020 will have no choice but to mature or fade away. How fortunate its graduates will be if they accept the responsibilities of adulthood.
In the post-World War II era, the youth culture taught young adults to avoid suffering and misfortune by embracing lifestyles that were haphazard, irresponsible, and non-committal. They demanded the frenetic intemperance of wanting everything, instantly and effortlessly. The tragic results of this way of life can now be seen in shattered families, broken communities and lost faith.
Thus, the second counsel is to embrace suffering. Reverse this cultural norm. In the coming months, misfortune will not be a choice but a certainty. It can be faced with resentment or courage. However, it must be confronted.
All people must suffer in life, but this class will be forced to embrace it sooner and more intensely. Learn to endure these hardships with calm and courage. Come to see this suffering as something formative that will prove helpful for the future.
Given the fallen nature of humanity, there will always be misfortune. While there are moments of joy and satisfaction, life is a way of the cross on the path to sanctification. A person reaches the greatest degree of happiness on earth by embracing their cross, like Our Lord, with serene resolve. Indeed, the psalmist says that “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy (Ps. 125:5).”
Rarely in the nation’s history have graduates faced a crisis like the present one. It is a colossal threat to the country. It was impossible to be adequately prepared. Thus, everyone needs to have recourse to God.
The problem is that the prevailing mentality separates God from the ordinary course of events. The individual reigns supreme and all decide their futures. For many, God is considered no more than psychological support for people in their moments of weakness.
In the face of the present crisis, everyone is weak. Everyone will need support. Thus, the final counsel is to confide immensely in God. Once again, there is no choice but to take this supernatural path since the times will demand it.
The normal recourse to God will not be enough in the hard times ahead. An extraordinary crisis requires extraordinary aid. Have recourse to Almighty God. Have confidence that He will never abandon those who call upon Him.
Thus, at every opportunity, for all things big and small, call upon God and His Blessed Mother for aid. By God’s grace, a person becomes capable of doing heroic things beyond human nature. Thus, by confiding immensely in God, the “unfortunate” class of 2020 may strengthen itself beyond all expectations. It may well become fortunate by accomplishing much more than the classes that came before.
Put to the Test
The counsels to mature quickly, embrace suffering and confide immensely are offered in the face of circumstances that are pouring upon this graduation class. Those graduating will need the prayers and help of all those around them.
Their successes will have much greater value since they will be bought at the cost of great suffering. The price of failure will also be much higher than in times past. However, graduates must count themselves fortunate that they are being put to the test. They will not be allowed to sink into mediocrity.
The future of this unfortunate-made-fortunate class of 2020 will be determined by their fighting spirit, their mettle. This year’s graduates can become America’s “Second Great Generation” or a lost one. The decision is theirs.
As seen on The Imaginative Conservative.