Dear Class of 2017, Fix The World Why Don’t Ya

The future is in front of you. Well, duh! If you think that statement is a no-brainer, here’s another one. Your diploma, whether you got it for free or spent tens of thousands of dollars, will only get you so far. You’ll have to be fearless and inexhaustible to make a splash. Want to be a big fish in a little pond? Good luck. That pond is fully stocked with mediocrity and hypocrisy. Want to be a little fish in a big pond? Good luck. That pond is full of piranha and garbage and toxins.

So, what’s a shiny new graduate to do? Better not expect trigger warnings. It’s a swim at your own risk world out there. If you plan to strap on some Kevlar and dive in, be prepared to sink. Sure, battling it out against seasoned professionals who are simply trying to keep their heads above water won’t be that hard. Some of them already have one foot out the door. It’s the ones who are still paying off their student loans who are your real competition. Of course, there are also some who have their kid’s college to worry about, and they are the fiercest, so it might not be so easy after all. Experienced workers have seen the future. They know they can’t get ahead of it.

What you need is useful information. Well, here it is…

Generations who came before you made enormous progress toward solving the problems of disease and poverty and the “isms” that plague humanity. Some of them died trying. Corruption, greed, and ignorance still contribute to chronic crisis for too many. Slavery still exists, sometimes in plain sight. Substance abuse, child abuse, and spousal abuse permeate all socioeconomic and cultural classifications in all nations. Homelessness and food scarcity, behavioral and mental disorders, and, yes, drug dependency affect an ever increasing number of the world’s population. The world is old. Its inhabitants are aging. No matter how much you spend to delay the inevitable, no anti-aging gimmick will change that fact.

It’s all up to you now to fix this screwed up world. Good luck with that!

The B-Roll

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It’s about to happen. The first brood of bluebirds nesting in my garden will fledge any day now. Unlike April the Giraffe, this mama’s accomplishment probably won’t go viral.

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Bird watcher watching the bird watcher

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Don’t make me come in there!

No matter, it has been my pleasure to hear chirps of delight with each delivery of some tender morsel that managed to escape, one of what is sure to be countless, pesticide applications in our community this year. Homeowners and city officials alike seem to have little regard for the damage being done to beneficial insect populations in the name of vigilance against West Nile.

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Chemical dependent f King species

Just like abstinence only education, constant spraying does not prevent mosquito hook ups from happening whenever the mood strikes. I digress.

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Be sure to get my good side.

Birds, bees, and blooms are putting on quite a show for us. We even had a surprise visit by a bobcat on Easter Sunday. Similar to the war on mosquitos, over-development has all but eliminated the wildlife habitat in North Texas. There I go again.

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B_Roll

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Still, spring is a magical time filled with bullfrog serenades in the evenings and butterflies beginning to find their way back to the Texas natives seeded on the Wild West side of the garden, which I was surprised to learn almost got me fined by our HOA.

Oh, the perils of civilization!

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Ten Years A Volunteer

The move was sudden but not completely unexpected. After all, it had been almost five years since we relocated, and that was only because we promised not to move while our son was in high school. Our professional lives had progressed much like everyone else’s, in starts and stops, not always of our own choosing, still, onward and upward from place to place for a job.

Then one day the call I’d been waiting over a month to receive came, offering a promotion that would finally let me step into the role I’d been hoping for my entire career. It meant we’d have to relocate to Florida, but I was excited for the opportunity. At the same time, another call from a different direction changed our lives entirely. We moved to Texas instead.

The first few months were spent learning to navigate the mangled highways in North Texas. Without a job and without children in school, getting to know people took some effort. Completely by chance while searching for a grocery store, I discovered a community garden that supplies a local food pantry and senior center with fresh fruits and vegetables. A sign posted the number to call for information about adopting a garden plot. I called.

A few days later I became a volunteer gardener. In Texas, that’s a bit like being an intern in hell’s boiler room. The first growing season I mostly dug nut sedge out of the neglected plot I’d been assigned near some fatigued fruit trees. I also harvested okra and got to know the other gardeners. It wasn’t long before I made friends with some Master Gardeners.

Certified Master Gardeners are the cream of the crop when it comes to volunteers. Always striving for excellence, how could I not want to be one of them? So, with the encouragement of my new friends, I applied for the twelve week training course offered through Texas A&M. It was great fun, educational, and most of all it opened up volunteering opportunities that filled my servant’s heart with joy. At the end of my first year, I received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for more than 100 hours of teaching and fundraising. Surprised by my new found enthusiasm for community service, it was clear that a search for paid work could wait.

Over the next nine years I poured myself into public education projects with local and national organizations, even going back to school to prepare for leadership in public affairs and community service. I believe education is the single most important factor in reducing a person’s vulnerability to poverty, the causes of which are numerous and complex to some and as simple as having a choice to others. It is my strong desire to serve an organization whose mission is to combat ignorance that perpetuates poverty. The luxury of choosing to do so for free is no longer mine. Ten years preparing for what’s next followed two decades of professional experience. Now it’s time to move on.