Never Forget

 

Graduation is only weeks away. I can see it, if I peer behind the curtain of finals and the final days of classes. This whole four year affair will soon be done, and with that comes festivities, good times, and for some – forgiving and forgetting.

 

It's attractive, I must admit. Maybe even smart, to let what happened in the past stay in the past. To let bygones and bygones. But while forgiveness is graceful, forgetting is not. Since middle school, this phrase has followed me: Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The past must be learned from if the future has any hope of being better. Some people say happiness is dependent upon your perception of the world, but perceptions that ignore the negative aspects of it are no better than delusions. Worse yet, they can be dangerous.

 

The past can weigh you down. You can't spend your entire life looking backwards, but that's not to say you have to dump the entire past out the window. You must find a compromise, looking forward, but always informed by what happened before.

 

And it can be hard, especially when you've experienced hardship, and for many of us, we just can't escape the past. For some people, a single moment can have a profound impact on the rest of their lives. 

 

As the Class of 2018 prepares to graduate, I want to leave you with this: Never forget where you came from, and what you experienced to get where you are today. Some of us might be business executives one day, public officials, people of importance and power, managing young people just like ourselves who might be in more trying circumstances. It is easy to forget. It is hard to remember. 

 

There’s an “Escape the Fate” song that comes to mind: “Remember Every Scar.” These lines in particular ring especially true:

Hold on to that hell you have to pay All the tragedies make you who you are

Remember every scar

 

Never forget the world for what it is, and while it might have opportunity and happiness, it also has hells, hells that we all must collectively address and fight against if the world is ever going to improve. We live in an incredibly vile political atmosphere where mass shootings are the norm and our planet is deteriorating at an alarming rate, a world where an increasing amount of people in the United States are disenfranchised from basic things like health care while our government sends our troops to go die in the Middle East to defend our interests in fossil fuel, one of the very things poisoning this planet. We live in a world where grown adults feel it is fit to mock children for wanting to be safe in their own schools, where we prop up a president with questionable ties to white supremacy, where a handful of powerful people play a glorified game of battleship, creating the illusion of sides, while ordinary people get caught in the crossfire. 

 

The world isn’t perfect, it never was, and while it never was all bad, it never was all good, either. Remember the past, because it’s a good indicator of the future. Stay hungry, Class of 2018. I look forward to seeing you all at commencement.