The Text of Mr. Loud’s Commencement Address, May 19, 2018

Text of remarks delivered by Mr. Roger S. Loud, commencement speaker at the 2018 Northwood School Commencement on May 19, 2018.

 Note: much of what Mr. Loud said was extemporaneous. What follows are his prepared remarks, which may vary from his address as delivered.

RSL

Scenes from the 2018 cNorthwood School commencement.

I’m especially grateful that at no time….

*  * * * *

If you heard some clicking….

* * * * *

I should tell you how this scenario came about.  A few weeks ago….

…I’m as susceptible to flattery as the next guy….

* * * * *

The spotlight is on the Class of 2018, this group of young men and women, patiently waiting to get out to ring the bell, become Northwood alums, and head off to the next chapters and challenges in their lives.  With just a quick look, you can tell —

They’re all good-looking.

They’re all athletic.

They’re all hard-working.

and, by some accounts, they’re all quite intelligent.  Their time at Northwood has been spent largely inside an appropriately-constructed bubble of safety and support, with room to grow and room to fail, a good diet and plenty of exercise, and a competent and caring faculty.  Indeed, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between our being a small school and being a large family.

For instance:

If Patrick….

If Aoi….

If Moe….

Or if Kylie….

In the next few years that bubble will grow bigger and more porous, and before we know it, this well-prepared group will be on its own.

– – – – – – – – – –

I’ve heard a good number of graduation speakers, and almost all of them have offered some advice to the graduates.

Giving advice to teenagers?  I’m sure most of you in the audience have tried it

I find….

* * * * *

I try to limit my advice-giving to something light-hearted and friendly, such as

“I would advise you….”

* * * * *

So…no advice, but I will do some begging in a few minutes.

I look into the near future through two very different lenses:

Through lens #1, I see vast and varied opportunities awaiting these graduates –

Think of the advances being made so rapidly in the sciences – in biology, genetics, medicine, physics, chemistry and astrophysics – in agriculture and artificial intelligence; in technology and robotics – big robots building things or performing surgery, little ones to keep us healthy from the inside.

There’s talk of eventually mining the nearby asteroids for iron and other element (now there’s a job with a bit of a commute!).

There’s talk of manufacturing human organs, so that waiting in long lines for donations will be a thing of the past.

— Imagine walking through an upscale mall and into a store:  KIDNEYS by SIDNEY, and having Dr. Williams, with his 3-D organ-printer, take your DNA sample and your credit card, and promise you a new pair next week.

Not everyone will head in these exotic new directions.  If the Arts and Literature beckon you, go for it, because that’s where the soul of the human race lies.  Or perhaps teaching – a rewarding profession in which every day is different, and the money is fabulous.

So, yes, the opportunities are numerous, and many of them will appear in areas we can only imagine.

But looking through lens #2, I fear that human beings are in some trouble, and that the future is somewhat scary.

As we hurtle into the future, we’re being pulled by lightning-fast advances in information, technology, and knowledge, but there are hugely important qualities we must have with us which are lagging

such as WISDOM (don’t confuse knowledge with wisdom)

EMPATHY

CONCERN for those around us and for the planet itself

HONESTY, ETHICS, MORALITY

and here’s where I start begging –

You have to get off the bench and into the game!

The world needs bright and courageous problem-solvers; we need leaders who can objectively appreciate and analyze the dangers we face and which we have created:

Here are the top two on my list:

  • Our earthly environment is in peril (no secret to you), and we’re no going to be able to fi it if we don’t make dramatic changes right now. Consider the rising oceans, heating up, becoming more acidic – most surely certain to cause spectacular damage and the migrations of tens of millions of refugees fleeing the coastlines, along with more and more dramatic weather events.
  • The growing gaps in wealth and income all around the world which, if not addressed, will do irrevocable harm to humanity;
  • Not to mention the ever-present wars, nuclear arsenals, hatred, greed – you

If you get off the bench, you’ll need to inform yourselves, to hone your ability to tell truth from garbage, to dissect difficult issues and take a stand, and to persuade others to join you.

In this country, we must hold our political and corporate leaders to higher standards, where the common good takes precedence over all else.

Easier said than done, but totally necessary.  And some of you, like Olivia and Sara and others, have begun to fulfill those needs.

If Northwood has done its job, you’re all ready to get off the bench and into the game to look through both lenses, to succeed in self-fulfillment and as active citizens, to make a real difference.

Here’s hoping that each night, as you turn out the lights, you can look back on a day in which you make someone else’s life a little better.

Bon voyage to all of you, stay in touch, and God bless.

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