Last week, an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts named David McCullough, delivered a commencement speech that caught a lot of peoples attention – mostly by enraging them. As he stood in front of their class of 2012, he decided AGAINST delivering a traditional, happy-go-luck, ‘go-get-em-tiger’ type speech and decided to be honest. Brutally honest. And he began this epic speech by driving home a message that ALL children [as well as many adults] desperately NEED to hear: “You are NOT special.”
Here is the speech in it’s entirety:
From what I’ve observed, the main criticism of his speech is that it offers for uplifting, redemptive qualities. People hate it because he is doing the opposite of coddling the young minds of these children, which in their world, means that he is emotionally terrorizing them. Basically, he’s being accused of being a DOUCHE – who could have relayed a message of hope and perseverance but instead, chose to inundate their young hearts with brash pessimism that would have taken Christopher Hitchens aback.
But it doesn’t matter what those people think – because their brand of anti-intellectualism is EXACTLY why this speech needed to be said NOW.
Because we live in an age of lazy, apathetic idiots, many of the people who disagree with Mr. McCullough DIDN’T take the effort to watch the entire clip and clicked STOP after he stated the students are not special, but in doing so they missed the ENTIRE point. Although we need to be mindful of our children’s mental and emotional states, we have gone TOO DAMN FAR with pampering them. We have now become a society of p*ssy parents and leaders who would rather overwhelm our children with ideologies about their unearned significance and perceived infallibility, than raise them to be strong-minded, strong-willed young adults. We teach them that they are snow flakes who are all entitled to happy lives and sunny days and flying unicorns – but we fail to prepare them for how difficult the road is to those things.
And the scary part is, these young adults are facing RIDICULOUS challenges that many of the generations before them were LUCKY to not have to go through. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
See, here’s the thing: Every single kid sitting at that commencement listening to Mr. McCullough, as well as every other young adult graduating from high schools all over the world, are entering into a world that will NOT baby them. They are entering into a broken post-secondary school system that will leave them prepared ONLY to walk into a terrible economy where a masters degree could have you adding lettuce to the Big Mac right beside a high school drop out. YES, it’s THAT bad.
And the reality that this brilliant teacher recognized, is that the only true measure of a man or a woman is what he or she ACHIEVES through BUSTING THEIR ASS. None of us are intrinsically special and we need to communicate that to EVERY child, young adult and befuddled “grown-up” who have all found a way to turn that sentiment into a false sense of entitlement. You don’t deserve a DAMN THING because of what you THINK you are, or what people TELL you you’re worth – you deserve what the hell you WORK for.
If there were MORE great men and women keeping it THIS real with our students, we would have a LOT more honest, real and hard workers, and a lot less people sitting around dazed and confused that everything they simply EXPECTED was NOT handed to them on a silver platter.
This Is Your Conscience