Sunday, June 7, 2020

Donnie's Graduation

If you read yesterday’s post, you have a good feel for the purpose of a personal graduation speech. No one can predict what impact such speeches make on the young mind, but I’m fairly certain that while they can’t ensure an epiphany of kindness and guarantee an enlightened self -awareness, they at least can help aim a young person in that direction and maybe provide a needed reminder or a welcoming comfort in future years. 

I suspect that our fearful leader never received a speech like this and because his teachers were silent about his potential goodness or never bothered to look for it, he was given tacit permission to become the ignorant bully he is. I would like to give him such a speech now, but if one is to avoid easy platitudes and flowery clichés, one has to be specific and name specific moments of worthy behavior. 

And with the person he has shown us these past four years, I truthfully can’t think of a single moment. Can you? Which of his thousands of tweets would you hold up as the speech of a decent human being, caring man or inspired leader? Which of his actions? Mocking the disabled? Putting innocent children in cages? Insulting war heroes? Paying off prostitutes he slept with? Firing more people in one term that probably have been fired in the history of Presidents? Honoring the “good people” on both sides of the Neo-Nazi rally? Hiding his taxes? Colluding with the Ukraine for his political gain? Suggesting drinking bleach and shooting looters? Making up facts when convenient and then calling real news fake? Tear-gassing priests so he can have a photo op holding up a Bible in front of a church? Or just when you think he can't go lower, he calls on George Floyd to look down and smile at him because of the good job he's doing? AARRGGH!!!!! I’m not even having to think very hard here or look anything up. Everywhere I look, all I see is despicable, despicable, despicable. 

We’ll never know if a good graduation speech would have helped him, but here’s what I would have said to this 13-year old self:

A spiritual master once said, “I have God and the devil both inside me.” His disciple asked; “Which one is stronger?” and the master replied, “Whichever one I feed.”

Donnie, you also have a better self and a worst self. We’ve seen a lot—too many— times when you’ve chosen to feed that part of yourself that thinks it’s okay to bully other kids, talk hatefully about anyone who thinks or looks or acts different from you, praising only yourself and not able to listen to others. But one day, I saw you caring for the class pet rabbit and holding it and petting it and giving it some affection. And that’s when I knew that there was a part of you that can be caring and loving and that’s the part of you I’ve tried to feed as your teacher. 

But that part needs both of us. I can only give you the recipe for feeding your better half, but you are the one that needs to assemble the ingredients and cook them and serve them. You can’t just order take-out cheeseburgers! You have to get in the kitchen and cook! And while you’re at, set the table for others as well and serve your dinner guests and for God’s sake, wash the dishes! Learn some humility. 

You seem to like the movies where the strong people beat up the weak people. But in real life, the strong people are the ones who are tender and caring and concerned for others and the weak people are the bullies who are so afraid of their caring selves that they run away from them or throw them down in the basement to starve. If you really want to be strong, start feeding the right person. 

And by the way, you will be so much happier if you do. When you die at the end of life, all those you loved and cared for will miss you so much and weep for you. But if you keep feeding your bully, nobody will miss you or come to your funeral. Scrooge was given one more chance at the end of his life, but that was just a story. You have to do it now. 13 years old is not too late! We’re counting on you, Donnie! Remember this teacher who loved you and prayed for your God to step forth. May it be so!

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