Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a column that was originally published on June 11.

Are you at a loss of what to do in today’s political environment? Write a graduation speech. It’s good for the soul. Here’s mine.

Graduates of (fill in the blank), Congratulations! Do something to set the mood and tempo of your generation. Play a part in defining the zeitgeist. Nature abhors a vacuum and if you’re not defining the ethos of the era, guess who will? Vacuums picks up dirt and dirtbags make lousy leaders. Grunge covers their lenses and blurs their vision. Be as bright as you can for as long as you can whenever you can to maximize the light in the world so others can see.

Keep graduating. Don’t stop commencing. You got the diploma and the real job is in sight but it’s likely not your final destination. Be flexible, take risks, manage your expectations and you will succeed by surviving. Graduate a little bit more every year to keep your attitude fresh about what’s next and remain curious about what’s around the corner. Build time into your busy schedule to reinvent yourself now and again. Step up, but pace yourself. The mountain is high and the trail long and you have all day.

Enjoy hard work and make thinking a priority. There’s no job that’s “mindless” unless you choose to stop thinking while doing it. Accept life’s menial jobs as opportunities to think about the world and family. Think of ways to fix or improve things and how to make life easier and more pleasant for people you love and care about. Give your mind the exercise it needs by letting it wonder. What are your innermost aspirations and goals? What is the plan to achieve them? What is the meaning of your life? There’s no right answer, of course, but value and growth in pondering the question.

Be courageous. Stand up to bullies, especially those who accuse you of being “elitist” because you learned things at school and in life. Dive under the wave of ignorance washing over America right now. Belong to the society of reasonable people who don’t maraud around earth and the Internet waving a proverbial pitchfork and spitting venom. Seething is not an American ideal. The era of buffoonery can’t last forever. Your trick is to tread water until the next renaissance of reason and then partake.


Speak your mind often but judiciously. Hone and use good judgment. Your voice unused you will lose, but enough is enough. A dead horse need not be beaten. Offer your view into the mix of the public discourse and see what happens. You may change your mind or others.

Find the humor in things and laugh every day as if your life depends on it because it does.

Be optimistic. Spend more energy solving problems than worrying about them. Don’t be Debbie Downer. Pointing out what’s bad about everything creates a gray cloud over your head. Pessimists suck energy out of things. Don’t deflate others with your fears and anxiety. Don’t complain about the weather.

Express your values. Be kind to people, plants and animals. Act trustworthy and tolerant. Look sharp. Give generously without expectation of return. Don’t be a stooge, sycophant or bootlicker. Find your spine and use it. Shine.

Don’t eat too much. The size of one’s vessel is not as important as the size of its hold. Your weight is not as important as your inner space for energy to flow in and out. Give the noisy engine of digestion regular breaks to hear other messages coming from within. The incredible lightness of being is just that.

Look at the sky a lot. Lifting your gaze to the heavens is mind altering and liberating. The infinity and possibility of the sky is all the proof necessary to know we are but fleeting bursts of energy in a much larger light show over which we have no control. Life is simpler when you look up. The task at hand becomes easier. Tend to your small flame while you have it and share your light and heat.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:


Twitter: @dillesquire

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