I had an epiphany of sorts today. The reason we begin questioning our lives, our actions, our relationships in the middle of our lives is possibly before that time it never occurred to us we would have to. At the front of our time on earth, many of us assume our lives are going to go in the direction we want them to. Most likely this is because we haven’t had enough life experience at that juncture to know any better. Initially we believe if we get married it will last forever, our children will be born healthy, our families remain together, the career we wish to pursue will bring us gratification and propel us into a lifestyle we would like to follow, our health, seemingly an endless commodity at that age, will never fail us. Nice try.
Recently a teacher named David McCullough, Jr. addressed a graduating class in Wellesley, Massachusetts expressing views that put him on the map. The gist of his message to the graduates was, in essence, “you are not special”. To quote:
“Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians … 37,000 class presidents … 92,000 harmonizing altos … 340,000 swaggering jocks … 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs…Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you,” McCullough Jr. said before following up with, “if everyone is special, then no one is.”
Interviewed later he defended his position but said he had not meant to infer that children were not special but they needed to set goals and enjoy achieving them. If everybody gets an “A” regardless of effort, what would be the impetus to excel? Where was the carrot? How do you gauge an”A” or a “B” if there are no “C’s, D’s or F’s” to compare them with?
At a party a while back, I was privy to a lively conversation espousing both sides of the issue with regard to giving awards or trophies in sports. It seems the policy often now is that all children are given trophies, whether merited or not. I looked up the definition on-line and the American Dictionary defines sport as follows:
- Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.
- A particular form of this activity.
- An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.
It would appear to me that by the very definition of the word, sport would be activities between individuals which involved competition.
Sooooo, (Are you with me here?) I looked up competition as it would apply for the sake of this writing.
- The act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry.
- A test of skill or ability; a contest: a skating competition.
It would strike me that if we teach our children they deserve to be rewarded or win whether or they have stretched themselves to achieve, does this not result in them growing up with a sense of entitlement such as I am noticing lately in our young people? My mantra as my kids were coming up the ladder was, “no reward for bad behavior”. I stick by that.
If they go on a job interview, but lack the qualifications to do the job, should the employer award everyone filling out an application the position based on the above premise? How will this fit into the actual real world once they are launched into it?
Competition is never going to be completely fair because our gifts as humans are not distributed equally, but wouldn’t life be monotonous if we were all considered the same? If all the women looked like Catherine Zeta-Jones and all the men like George Clooney what a pale world this would be. For me it is the very differences among us that make us unique and interesting. How do you appreciate an extraordinary piece of art without having one of lessor genius to compare it to?
Advertisers, clothing designers, trend setters are trying to press us all into the same mold. Some of us are cut more generously and others more spare, some born with lush glossy locks and others with a treeless palate. I, for one, take heart in my uniqueness and those around me, for it makes me who I am. Working for something with diligence adds to the sweetness of succeeding, or even if success eludes you, knowing you did your best.
David McCullough was trying to say, or so it seems, that you need to put in the time to make the dime and not expect the world to hand you everything simply because your parents made it easy for you to expect it to.
During the conversation I mentioned earlier on about all players getting trophies for sports with none being singled out for achievement, I found people sitting on both side of the fence. I would be interested to hear your opinion on this as it is a concept I find difficult to embrace.
At any rate, I am done with my daily rant, going to take a breath and pour a glass of ice tea. It is hot outside with the thermometer steadily moving up in the 90′s. Even Mouse the Cat, who loves to roam, has chosen to take refuge in her apartment on the second floor.
This tuna salad is so different and flavorful. I would happily eat it on a cracker, but the weather lent itself last night to a cool salad and this one hit the spot.
If you’re interested in hearing the entire commencement speech tune in here Boston Herald.
Fully Loaded Tuna Salad
2 5 oz. cans albacore tuna, drained and flaked
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon infused olive oil (you can substitute olive oil and a squeeze of lemon if you need to)
1/2 cup bread & butter (or sweet) pickles, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/8 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together adding mayonnaise gradually until desired consistency. Chill for 1 hr. to blend flavors. Serves 4-6