It’s Up to the Next Generation to Change the World

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have excellent news.

I’m not going to tell you what it is yet, though. I have to tell the story first.

As you may or may not know, Kim and I spent a good part of the week before last as parents attending graduation events at the University of Tennessee. We went to four functions in all, including the commencement ceremony on Saturday for the UT College of Arts and Sciences.

UT is a big place. I think I had forgotten how big. In fact, the university graduated each of its colleges over a series of three days.

The Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony was the largest one. That tidbit is noteworthy only for the fact that it made for quite a long event. It was worth every second, but that didn’t make it any easier on the 10,000 or so backsides in attendance.

During the events leading up to graduation, however, I was fortunate to talk with professors, deans, graduating seniors and other university administrators.

I met and talked at length with new UTK Chancellor Beverly Davenport. This was a highlight for me. She is smart, energetic and passionate. Plus, she is a southerner, which doesn’t hurt anything. The university is in the best of hands with her steering the ship. I assure you of that. I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes.

On Saturday morning, her energizing remarks to the graduating class were nothing short of a locker room speech.

But she was only one of dozens of people I met throughout the week who are among the brightest in their respective fields. Their accomplishments are mind blowing, their potential is infinite, and their appetite to serve their planet seems to be insatiable.

So here’s the excellent news I promised you: Everything is going to be all right.

I have full faith that tomorrow’s generation understands what it will take to fix us. They are inheriting a mess, but the global environment these young people have witnessed growing up seems to have created a sense of urgency within them. They’re driven, they’re bright, and they’re focused.

It’s not just happening in one place either.

UT probably graduated 5,000 seniors last week. Imagine how many graduated from the thousands of schools globally.

I sense they collectively understand that it’s up to them to make the changes that will literally save the world.

I’ve slept on it a couple of nights thinking the intoxication from all the pomp and circumstance would wear off, but it hasn’t.

I was inspired by what I saw and heard, and my hope in mankind has been renewed.

Back when I was in school, people talked about making a difference, but it was the ‘80s. Things were rocking along pretty good for us mainstream kids.

That was then, though. And this is now.

The world has deteriorated since I was their age, there’s no doubt about it. And it’s continuing down the wrong path more and more rapidly every day.

Go back and scan the headlines on the front page of this newspaper you’re holding.

They’re alarming — unbelievable at times.

Today is more ridiculous than yesterday, which was more ridiculous than the day before that.

We’re barely treading water. And I am 100 percent convinced that these young Millennials — as we love to call them — will find new ways to throw us a lifeline instead of another concrete block.

But they can’t do it alone.

We have to help save ourselves. We have to be willing to listen to other peoples’ opinions rather than try to yell over them.

Instead of building another wall, I say we knock down some of the walls that already exist so we can see and learn to appreciate the people on the other side.

They may not look like us, act like us or have our same belief systems.

Oh, wait.

Maybe it’s us who don’t look like them.

Is my generation capable of seeing things that way? If we are, we’ve been hiding it pretty well here lately.

I’m inspired, though, because that’s the way the class of 2017 sees the world. And from my observations, they’re dead set on making it a better place.

I believe they will. I wish them all the success possible. Our future depends on it.

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