Dear Class of 2020:
You made it! I guess all graduating classes do. But, WOW what you had to go through to get here!
As the end of your senior year has dragged to an end unexpected end, I can’t help but think that you’re positioned for greatness. I’ve thought a lot about what your last few months have been like. And thought a lot about what your 18 years have been like.
You are the first graduating class is all post 9/11. You’ve never lived in a time that our country wasn’t engaged in a war. Never. You’ve never just walked through an airport or stood at the gate to welcome someone home. Terrorist attacks on American soil have been a regular occurrence in your life.
You have vague memories of a thing called a VCR and some fleeting memories of things called DVD’s…and CD’s. Your life has been largely digital. Social media became a thing your parents were just beginning to navigate when you were toddlers. And in the years since, it’s become a driving force in your lives, both good and bad. We, as your parents, are the first parents to have to have try to guide you through this digital life while really not knowing if we’re getting it anywhere close to 100% right. Because there’s no one before us to ask.
Active shooter drills have become a regular practice because you’ve lived most of your school years very aware that school shootings happen. Everywhere. Another thing generations before you never had to navigate. Our classmates had guns in their trucks because they hunted, because they looked good mounted in that back window, because Texas. And we never ever worried they might be turned on the school.
You’ve seen racial tension & religious prejudice dominate the headlines. And have been the first generation to grow up in a society where “hate crimes” are now a category in law enforcement. And hate speech has made social media an ugly and difficult thing.
Each presidency you’ve lived through has divided our nation more. You’ve never known a time where politicians and politics are civil. Or where those leading our country have truly sought to work together for the greater good. And it’s because you’ve inherited what the generations before you have thought was “good”.
This global pandemic has robbed you of so much that traditionally marks the end of childhood. And this world has robbed you of so much that should have been childhood. We see the sadness, frustration, anger…all of the feelings…that losing Senior Prom, traditional graduation, Senior sports seasons, last day of school…all of it brings! We see you. We cry with you. We feel it all with you. Because, yes, there are people who have it worse. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get to feel all of the emotions that the ending to this year brings.
But we don’t just cry with you. We celebrate with you. Because you are positioned to be the next Greatest Generation. Your great-grandparents were the children of the Great Depression. The warriors in WWII and Korea. They built this nation and brought so much greatness. They are the only generation in modern history that has lived a life similar to yours. And they have become known as the Greatest Generation.
That’s what I see in all of you. A generation that isn’t content to let things go on as they are now. A generation that has had to navigate rough waters for most of your lives to reach this milestone of graduation. A generation who will go out and be world changers because you refuse to let the world change you. You won’t accept the things you can’t change. You’ll change the thing you can’t accept.
You’ll go into the medical field and turn it on its ear because you won’t accept that there is no cure. You’ll go into the tech field and upend it because you’ve seen the good & the bad and you’ll only settle for best. You’ll go into the military and turn into the leaders that guide our nation through its hardest times. You’ll step into law enforcement and pursue justice first. You’ll be first responders that we want to celebrate always, not just in crisis. You’ll be pioneers in social justice. You’ll climb political ladders and become the leaders that the nation needs. You’ll be parents who take what you’ve learned in your upbringing and one up your parents. Because you’ll have learned from our mistakes and capitalize on what we did right. And you’ll be ready to raise up your own world changers. You’ll step into any role you pursue outside of high school and not only do your job, you’ll do good things through your job. You’ll go into ministry roles and be the reason people come to know Jesus and begin to change the world because of it. You are a class of world changers. Each and every one of you. If you have voices telling you that you’re not, TURN THEM OFF. You are a world changer. And if you need to be reminded of that, I’ll tell you as often as you want to hear it. Seriously.
Class of 2020, you have my son and you have my heart. Cross that football field (I live in Texas, what do you expect?), move that tassel and go move mountains. Only big things ahead. Great things. For the next Greatest Generation.