On this, the weekend when most of our area’s schools hold graduation exercises, “The Future” is traditionally the main subject of speeches by valedictorians and principals alike.
That is, of course, as it should be. After successfully navigating the rocky shoals of adolescence and focusing much of their energies on earning a high school diploma, this is a time for optimism and hope about the years ahead.
It is also a time when newspapers offer what they consider sage advice to graduating seniors about the world they will encounter in the years to come. Sage or not, this particular newspaper’s advice is this:
Don’t believe us or anyone else who tells you they know what you’ll be facing in “The Future.”
Because we don’t know.
Just consider this fact: Facebook is only nine years old. It is such a prominent part of everyday life in 2013 that most of you could not imagine an existence without it. Twitter has only been around for seven years.
When your parents were wearing their caps and gowns in whatever high school gyms or auditoriums in which they were listening to speeches, they could not have imagined the society they inhabit today.
Back then, they had to know how to read a map, because they didn’t have a Global Positioning System (GPS) device in their car. If they wanted to make a plane reservation, they had to call up an airline and talk to a human being instead doing it all – including paying for the trip – online.
They didn’t have a cell phone, particularly one that could check their email (which has been around only 20 years), send and receive instant messages, take photos, respond to things they said out loud and hundreds of other applications ... in addition to making a phone call from anywhere.
While you are mastering the skill sets that countless innovations over the last decade or two require for you to earn a decent living, some of those skills are very likely going to be obsolete in 10 or 20 years because of whatever the next Facebook or Twitter will be.
But the good news is that yours is a generation that has adapted beautifully to whatever has come along, and there’s no reason to think you won’t be up to learning whatever you need to succeed.
While nobody can predict the future, there are valuable lessons to be retained from the past. Your parents’ and teachers’ life experiences are hard-earned, valuable and well-worth your time.
Oh, and one thing that never changes: If you live your life with honor and integrity, you’ll do just fine, no matter what challenges “The Future” may bring.