Congratulations class of 2012. It is my great pleasure and privilege to address you on this momentous occasion in your lives.
I know today is all about you, so I want to talk about me for a second. This is also a momentous occasion in my life. Well, not so much momentous as depressing. As I look out at all your fresh, young, and eager faces a few things come immediately to mind. First, and this is the me part, I realize how old I am. I seems like I was you just a moment ago. It is sobering to think that when you were born, the world had already traded in the awesome musical stylings of Mister Mister for Milli Vanilli. This was a harbinger of things to come if ever there was one, but I can see from your faces you have no idea what I am talking about.
Anyway, this is your day. Enough about me, I wish to speak about, well, more me. Not me in particular, but my whole generation of “me’s.” A moment ago I said that when I look out at all your fresh, young, and eager faces a few things come immediately to mind. One, I am old. Two, I owe you an apology. Me and all the other “me’s” of my generation. We were your last chance and we blew it.
Most of you are graduating with mountains of debt with little or no prospect of paying it back anytime soon. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but that is kinda our fault too. Among the many things we have taught you is that it is perfectly fine to incur huge amounts of debt with no reasonable way to pay it back. We taught you that you can borrow other people’s money and that when things get rough you can either just walk away or wait long enough for the government to bail you out. We taught you that it is perfectly fine to live beyond your means only to hand your bills to somebody else. It isn’t. Eventually, somebody has to pay. Guess what? That somebody is you. Now, that might not be so bad if there were lots and lots of you to pay for it, just a little for everyone. But we kinda killed millions of little “yous” in the process, because we thought they might crimp our style. Our parent’s religion told us not to behave this way, but we were so sure we knew better. I will be the first to admit that we didn’t think that all the way through. Our bad.
Me and the other “me’s,” we inherited a world …