My 2022 Commencement Address

Greetings, friends! Once again, no one has asked me to give a commencement address (probably because of all the f-bombs from last year’s address). However, that didn’t stop me from writing one for this year on the off chance no one with the power to schedule speakers decides to go back more than 1 year.

Members of the Class of 2022, you’re probably wondering why I called you all here today. Let me start by saying it’s an honor to speak to you, and I’m not just saying that because I’m the last person standing between you and walking across this stage getting your diplomas. I’m no math major, but I know there are more of you than there is of me. As I don’t want to be overrun by angry students, I’ll keep my comments brief.

The past couple of years has taught us the value of being flexible in the face of adversity, and let’s face it, we’re pretty much in a constant state of utter fuckery these days. Under the circumstances, we are hard-wired to look for possible solutions, which is admirable, but also might make things worse. That’s why it’s important to think before you act.

Granted, you’re at a time in your life when you think you know everything. As someone who felt that way when I was your age, let me tell you the truth. You don’t know shit. It’s only through life, knowledge, and the occasional alcoholic beverage (except White Claw, which is this generation’s version of Zima) that we figure out how much we don’t know. For example, I’ll bet most of you haven’t even heard of Zima, so you wouldn’t know how much is sucked, thus you wouldn’t know how much White Claw sucks. It was only through trial and error America was able to find out Zima was flat Sprite made alcoholic and it was eventually phased out of production…until recently.

There’s an old saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Originally, I thought my junior high history teacher made it up to advise us of what summer school would be like, but it’s actually a bit older than that. In short, it means we need to look back sometimes to avoid future mistakes, mainly because the mistakes we make today tend to have roots in the past. Every so often we’ll see something “new” come along that is merely a repackaging of an idea that sucked before.

For example, let’s look at democratic socialism. On the surface, it seems like a good idea, a fusion that allows for people to vote for what’s best for the rest of the country. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, here’s the catch: we’ve tried both democracy and socialism separately and they didn’t turn out so good. If we combine the two, it will be two dark fates that fail great together.

Even if you don’t want to go into history to find a reason to object to democratic socialism, a little critical thinking will do the trick. After all, if we’re allowed to vote in socialism under it, would we be allowed to vote it out again? I’ve asked that same question and haven’t gotten a response yet, but after a few years and a few more drinks, I think I’ve figured out why: it’s because answering it would expose its proponents’ commitment to more socialism than more democracy. Now, I could be wrong, and if I am, I’ll eat my hat. Then again, it might be the only thing I’ll have to eat, but I’m a man of my word.

After that last section, you may thing I’m some right wing curmudgeon pooh-poohing anything that would move this country forward. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m far more libertarian than I look and sound. Basically, I want everyone to live their lives to their fullest and achieve what they want, so long as it doesn’t harm innocents or demands my sanction. In short, just leave me alone and don’t demand I foot the bill for what you want to do. I can be persuaded, but I don’t take kindly to being told I have to agree or else I’ll be subjected to horrible things like…being called names on the Internet.

Believe me, it’s not that big a deal. I’ve been called all sorts of names in my day and I’m still here. That’s because age also brings perspective. Does someone calling me a racist, homophobe, etc. really affect my life? Not really, because I know who I am. And that’s something that comes through life experiences, especially for all of you right now. Even a year on your own can change your minds. Be open to those changes and let them happen. Then, challenge them on regular bases to see whether those lessons still hold true and whether your beliefs match those lessons.

One other thing and then I’ll leave. In all of these changes you’ll experience, there is one belief to always hold dear to your hearts: don’t eat convenience store sushi, especially if it’s in the clearance area. But if that’s not inspiring enough, remember to be kind. It doesn’t take much, costs less, and means a lot.

Congratulations, Class of 2022!