It’s graduation season, and millions of new graduates are facing the world with pocketsful of brand-new plans and dreams. At least, I hope they are. I hope we have not beaten them down too much with gloomy forecasts of unemployment, ecological crises, and what we might lose in an increasingly automated society—as real as those problems may be. I hope we have not boiled down their aspirations to getting a steady paycheck, as important and difficult as that is.
I don’t know if young adults face the world anymore with the expectation that they will change it; they will correct the wrongs of previous generations. That they will be the ones who get it, the ones who solve humanity’s problems, the ones who figure out how to make human beings stop killing one another. I don’t know if graduation speakers still pass the torch by saying, “You are the future! Go out and make it happen!” I don’t know if graduates still plan to seize the day, to make the world theirs.
But I hope they do.
We need them.
We need young people who question the way things have always been done. We need inspiration, fresh ideas, big dreams.
A lot of big dreams don’t come true. I’m not saying we should sugarcoat that truth. But so much can be done just in the trying.
Dreams shape our lives whether or not we ever reach them, or reach them in exactly the way we thought. Dreams get us through the hard times. They give us purpose. They keep us from settling for less than our best. They give us the possibility that tomorrow will be even better than today.
The real tragedy would be not to even try.