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Grads are told: ‘You are not special’

What do you think?

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 8:10 am

What do you think of this commencement speech? Is it time young people heard a message like this? Or does it go too far? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP’s Facebook Page or use #WTOPTalkback or #WTOP on Twitter.

WASHINGTON – Here’s something you don’t hear people saying to younger folks: You are not special.

In a commencement speech in the Boston area, Wellesley High English teacher David McCullough Jr. told graduates just that.

“Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

“But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not,” McCullough told the Wellesley graduates Friday.

McCullough spelled out the the facts, telling the graduates that “even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.”

He ended his speech by telling the class of 2012 to exercise free will:

“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion-and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.”

Here’s the speech from YouTube:

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