Sunday, June 10, 2012

You are not special...

Yesterday, I ran across a news article about a very profound high school graduation speech given by a David McCullough Jr., a faculty member at Wellesley High School.  This teacher, whose specialty is English, was brutally honest as he broke the news to graduates that they are not special.  Using empirical evidence, this teacher told the young people that their whole lives, they had been sheltered, overprotected, and doted upon.  As I read this article, I couldn't help but cheer inwardly.

I grew up in the 1970s and 80s.  Back then, the news wasn't beamed into our homes 24/7 .  Parents were not so afraid to let their kids walk to the store by themselves, play outside unattended, or ride in the front seat of the car without a seatbelt.  Back then, kids didn't necessarily get a trophy just for showing up.  We had bullies, but there were no special laws protecting us from them.  In fact, we were often expected to handle bullies ourselves.  Of course, back then, we also didn't have the Internet, 24/7 news, or kids shooting up their schools.

I look at today's young people and I see kids who in some ways, have been exposed to much more than I was when I was their age.  And yet, in many fundamental ways, they have been exposed to much less and are less resilient.  My husband has told me that a lot of young people arrive at Army boot camp not knowing how to drive a car and never having spent a night away from home.  And yet, they know a lot more about sex, violence, and broken families.

I always wanted kids and I probably would have been fine as a mother... And yet, it makes me sad to think that today's mothers pretty much have to overprotect their kids or else be at risk of being labeled neglectful.  My own mom probably would have been visited by CPS if she were raising me today.

Anyway, I was really glad to see someone address the state of things for kids today.  I was glad to see someone tell these kids that despite the fact that they have been pampered and overprotected for so long, they are not special and are joining the ranks of many people like themselves.  It's the honest truth and one that more young people need to hear before they become adults.  There's a rampant sense of entitlement among so many today... It's good to know that someone had the stones to set them straight and let them know the real deal.

Those kids listening to that speech are certainly privileged and most definitely loved by their families... but to the world at large, they're like everyone else.  And it's up to them to set themselves apart and make others sit up and take notice.  It's up to them to achieve.  Because in real life, people don't get trophies just for showing up.


  1. And I found the speech thanks to you. Thanks! :D

    Somehow when I read it I wished I could forward it to the missionaries that visited me... for all the 'you're the best' and other frivolous unearned accolades they bestowed on me every time they visited. Everything was so 'special' that special no longer meant anything. :oP

  2. Oh yeah... Mormonism is full of people telling each other they're "special", until it leads to a very offensive swollen head with matching attitude. My husband's daughters are fully entrenched in it and one of them seems to be completely out of touch with reality. She's a radicalized Mormon who thinks she's "chosen" and that gives her the right to be rude to anyone who isn't like her. It's a double edged sword, though, because as they tell each other how special they are, they also tell them they aren't doing enough to live up to their "specialness". So those who don't have a full blown personality disorder end up being afflicted with paralyzing guilt complexes.


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