My 2018 Commencement Address

It’s that time of year again. High school and college students are graduating from their various institutions of public or higher learning, and that means they get to sit through another commencement speaker. Some are great (Michael Keaton’s will be hard to top), some are okay, and most are…well, predictable. All inspiring and “reach for your dreams”. Who wants to hear that?

In what is turning into at least a semi-annual tradition, I present the commencement speech I would want to give to graduating seniors.

To the Class of 2018, I have two words for you.

Now, what are you thinking those two words are? If you’re a WWE fan, you might think those two words are “Suck it!” That would be appropriate if I were former President Bill Clinton, but no. If you’re a comic book fan, you might think those words are “I’m Batman.” Considering Michael Keaton beat me to it, it’s not that. If you’re polite, you might think those words are “Thank you.” Not quite. Is it “I’m sorry”? No, that doesn’t come until after my speech.

Give up yet? Well, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The two words I have for you are…

Lighten up.

I know there are some of you out there who are thinking of two more words to say to me, but this is a family commencement speech. And, I want you to hear me out.

When I was your age, which was…far too long ago, I took myself way too seriously. I mean, I liked to have fun, but I thought I was the smartest thing since sliced bread. (Which, if you really think about it, isn’t that smart.) That ended after my very first class my freshman year of college. I walked in thinking I was brighter than everyone else and walked out knowing I wasn’t.

I offer you the same advice I learned the hard way: lighten up.

Listen, I know you have a lot on your plates. Global climate change which may or may not be considered weather, potential school shootings, online bullying, and any number of other threats that never could have been conceived when I was in your shoes. You may think you have to grow up faster just to keep up with the issues that pop up on a regular basis. I used to think that way, too. But here’s a little secret: this crap has been going on for decades. You’re just the latest group to find out about it.

You have a few options on the table, though. Some of you will choose to try to fix the world’s problems. Others will try to deny the problems exist. Still others will decide the world’s problems don’t have to be yours. After almost 50 years on this planet, I can assure you those of you in that last group are going to be a lot happier. Maybe not as happy as the people who deny the problems exist, but hey, you’re close enough for government work.

That just leaves the fixers out to address. I’m one of you. I love digging into issues and trying to figure out how to resolve them, so I get why you want to change the world. The problem is most of the change you’ll see is of the pocket variety, and most of your best efforts to fix the world will end in failure.

Brought the room down a bit, didn’t I?

This is why it’s important to lighten up. If you shoot for the moon and get frustrated you keep missing, you will get discouraged, depressed, or, worst of all, the urge to run for Congress. This is why it’s important to lighten up: it helps us calibrate our expectations to our abilities while making sure we’re not too hard on ourselves in the process.

And that goes for the lot of you! Have we forgotten how to have fun and laugh? I have seen so many situations where we have assumed the worst from people merely for telling a joke that we didn’t like. Except for you, Michelle Wolfe. You’re just not that funny. We have reached a point where jokes are the source of more outrage than people and actions that deserve outrage.

Lighten up already! Not every joke is an example of the Patriarchy oppressing people or whites oppressing minorities or whatever the outrage du jour is on any given day. To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a joke is just a joke. And it’s only when we lighten up that we can recognize the jokes from the actual issues that need to be addressed.

And before the length of this speech becomes an issue, I’d better wrap it up. There’s a big world waiting for you out there, and it’s best experienced with a sense of humor and a smile on your face, if for nothing else than to confuse the people who don’t have either.

Congratulations! Now, go out there and lighten up!

Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

Out of the tragedy of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings has come a hashtag (#NeverAgain) and renewed calls for gun control. However, it has also created potential leaders in members of the student body. On the pro-gun control side, students David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Emma Gonzalez have been treated to media interviews, town hall meetings, and other high profile events where their voices have been amplified.

Then, on the pro-Second Amendment side, there’s Kyle Kashuv. He’s visited the White House, spoken to numbers members of Congress, and engaged people of all stripes on Twitter.

But this week’s edition of the Leftist Lexicon isn’t about gun control; it’s about public education. The same school produced Hogg, Kasky, Gonzalez, and Kashuv, but they have radically different viewpoints, and it may be because of the current state of public education.

public education

What the Left thinks it means – a system that teaches children the fundamentals necessary to become informed citizens

What it really means – a Leftist indoctrination factory where the fundamentals are barely taught

By way of full disclosure, I am a public school graduate, as are the members of my family. However, even back when I was roaming the hallways of my high school wondering why cute girls thought I was a nerd (maybe cause, well, I was one), I noticed standards were slipping a bit. Sure, I had some of the same teachers my older brothers did, but it was still noticeable.

Seeing some of the high school students today, I’m pretty sure standards have slipped more than a con artist who makes a living filing bodily injury claims. And it’s not because the students today are lacking access to technology or Internet coverage. You’d be hard-pressed to find a student without a smartphone attached to their bodies in some fashion, and they use hashtags, emojis, and other online forms of communication better than they can speak or write their native language.

Some would say the teachers are to blame, and to some extent, they’ve earned it. Outside of your parents and family, teachers represent most of the adults kids get to know. That’s a pretty big responsibility. You are shaping the minds of young people who will lead this country in the future.

And many of the people with that responsibility seem to think it’s vital to indoctrinate the next generation. After all, we don’t want them growing up thinking government isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, right? Now, imagine year after year of being told the Left is right and the Right is wrong. By the time students graduate high school today, they may have been exposed to somewhere in the neighborhood of 13-14 years of Leftist propaganda. And that indoctrination will continue into college where you’re more likely to find a unicorn that farts rainbows than you are a conservative teacher in a prominent position.

A large part of this has to do with teachers unions. Like with most other labor unions, teachers unions tend to be Leftist politically, which means it becomes another way for Leftists to launder federal tax dollars (i.e. our money) through public education, which go right back to the politicians who gave them the money in the first place. Combine that with the number of tenure jockeys out there who lost the passion to teach a long time ago, how schools are desperate enough to hire any teacher who can breathe, and how it practically takes an act of God to get a teacher fired and you have yourself a situation that screams “perfect job for a Leftist.”

Of course, if you’re a Leftist parent, you see nothing wrong with this. But for some of us who would like to get a fast food order filled right the third time, let alone the first, it’s not ideal. That’s why homeschooling, private schools, and school vouchers have gotten so popular in the past couple of decades. And this is why public school advocates and teachers unions like the National Education Association have been working so hard to derail the exodus away from their gravy train. Fewer public school students means less money going to public schools and less power in the political realm.

Look at how the Left has demonized Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education. They say she bought her way into the position (more than likely true), hasn’t set foot in a public school so she isn’t qualified to be Secretary of Education (actually, that sounds more like a selling point than a point of criticism), and she wants to promote homeschooling over public schooling (again, more of a selling point). Having seen DeVos in action, you can make an argument that she isn’t the best person for the job, but to say she’s the spawn of Satan for wanting to improve public education is a bit much. For all we know, she might only be a second cousin to Satan.

Just kidding, Secretary DeVos.

With public education, anyone wanting to make a difference or to improve the overall quality is fighting an uphill battle, one that discourages more people than encourages them. But all is not lost. It is possible to educate a child caught in the public school system, but it takes work. If you can’t afford to send your child to a public school or to homeschool, you need to be  attentive to what your children are learning and show an active interest in it. If you see something you’re not comfortable with what your child is learning, ask questions and balance the lessons with information you’re more comfortable with. Don’t forget education isn’t about spouting what a teacher says; it’s about exposing your children to multiple sources of information so they can learn and grow. An educated student is the bane of public education because he or she will have the tools to make up his or her mind on his or her own. (If I say his or her one more time in this piece, I get a free sandwich. And there it is!)

Not every public school teacher is horrible, but enough are that we need to take a serious look at the public school system to make sure we are getting the best results we with the money being spent. Although I may not agree with the David Hoggs of the world, the fact he is speaking up is admirable and shows his teachers did a good job. The same can be said of the Kyle Kashuvs of the world. If we had more students like these and fewer students who can name more Kardashians than Supreme Court Justices, the world might wind up a better place.

Of course, you realize this means we’re doomed.

The Return of Football

We are less than a month away from the start of the college football season and just 40 days from the start of the NFL season. At last football will return to the living room screens across the nation.

This is a small post but a fun one to toss in there between all the political stuff going on this year. But football will be a welcome diversion. So I’ll have to give a few shout outs.

For college teams, I’m gonna have to go with 2 of the 3 teams from my home state.

Go Panthers of UNI
Go Hawks of Iowa

And then I must give a shout out to my wife’s team. Because you either are born into it or you adapt if you marry into it.

Go BIG Red

For the NFL, well there has only been one team that I have been a fan of all these years and will always be a fan of them. Maybe we can have a good season this year.

Skol Vikings!

But as always there is always football downtime. But no more as there is a table-top football game you can play. It’s right here at the menu of the blog. Just click on the link for it, at the bottom of the rules is a download where you can get a PDF of the rules for yourself and your friends.

That way you can enjoy football YEAR ROUND!