For all the mystery surrounding life, it becomes about the lanes in which we find ourselves. The lane assigned to us at birth may not be the lane we find ourselves in the winter of our years. Circumstances may force us to move beyond what we know. Personal choices will play their part. Liberation and freedom will come to define others. The need to fight the tyranny of the lane in the form of protest will rock many. Change is predicated on the intention of something better. With this in mind, we adapt, test, search, and fight.
As we do, I would like us to remember those who cannot. An education affords us a tremendous amount of freedom. I believe it also places a great deal of responsibility on our shoulders. Whether in the courtroom or the boardroom, the kitchen or the factory floor, the desk or the construction site, I believe we each possess a responsibility to reach behind us to pull others forward. Given what we know, I believe this to be truer for us.
We are all busy. We are all consumed by deadlines, appointments, and commitments. Life can be suffocating and stifling. It can fool us into believing we can only focus on ourselves. With all that we must balance, the need to pull others forward can seem impossible. We get so focused on the concept of changing the world. We think in the form of grand systemic change and then we get overwhelmed. We panic and walk away from it all turning inward. Instead, I would like us to reframe our outlook.
The world is too big to change. Stop trying to change the world. Try to change the world for someone. The lawyer can work to change the image of his profession by honestly practicing the law and mentoring others to do the same. Board members can spend less time focused on the bottom line and more time on the welfare of the employees. In the kitchen, local and sustainable food can be used to improve the lives of local farmers. The factory floor can be more representative of the communities where they are housed. My desk can seek resources to help house the homeless. The construction site can be a place of empowerment for women. None of this is impossible. It often involves courage and a willingness to improve. These examples aren’t about changing the world. It is simply about changing the piece of the world where you find yourself.
To my fellow graduates, I know the lessons of Seattle University can impress upon us an overwhelming desire for change. Think too big and we can become hardened and calloused. Think too small and it will feel like the needle isn’t moving. I would love for us to focus on what we can change where we are standing. There is no shame in a ripple effect.
Be good to each other,
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