David McCullough Jr. recently told graduates that they are not special. His speech is reprinted here.
And you know, objectively speaking, the speech is not that awful. Basically this guy is telling the graduates that they are not all that and a bag of chips. Plenty of other people are graduating from great schools. Plenty of other people have achieved what you have and so much more. Get over yourselves and do something kind for others because the way we are measuring achievement individually is not really what we want to see reflected in society at large.
I think he's rude to say these things during what should be a joyous event for these young men and women, though.
Only imagine if I went to some guy's fancy birthday party and were asked to give a speech about the honouree in front of his entire family and all his friends.
"Franco is a really great guy," I'd say, "but he isn't special."
"There are six billion other people on this planet, and millions of other people have a birthday on this very day. My advice to Franco would be to direct the rest of his life toward serving others and consider moving to Guatemala to open a hospital. I mean, his being average and all means there are at least three billion people just as nice as he is, but here we're all sitting around and eating cake and exchanging Hallmark cards at $5 each as though he really accomplished something besides getting another year older."
And then... imagine I published my speech in the Boston Herald and got accolades for it. You see my point, right?
Sorry. I can't say his message is wrong, exactly, but it seems very out of place. Graduation is to be a celebration honouring graduates, most of whom have just spent 13 years in the system. Let them feel special for a few hours. Good grief.