SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 246: “Keep Up The Good Fight”

I’m proud today, not puffed up in any accomplishment of my own, but in that of my nephew Aaron (not pictured), USC graduate with a Master’s Degree in Architecture. It a big accomplishment and accompanied by many departmental awards he has finished as one of the top in his class.

Post the ceremony we are invited to a hosted lunch to see the works of the graduates of 2012.

Equally proud families cluster in groups, all sharing tales of educational accomplishments, incurred student debt and endless “we made it!” hugs.

And as I sit enjoying my veggie wrap, apple and cookie, I strike up a chat with Thomas, co-supporter of the 2012 graduating class. He is impossible to ignore with his warmth of personality, but equal to that, the USC colors that he so comfortably wears have grabbed my attention.

I ask, “What words of council do you have for the world?”

Appropriate to the day, Thomas declares his charge, “Work hard and passionately on anything you do.”

Here is a funny, but kind of true side note… I later meet Thomas’ family, all as warm as he, all passionate to speak out and all smiling with joy for the day. His oldest daughter is in attendance and with tremendous wit, she gives us a short council, “Don’t be an ***hole! That’s it… and it’s that simple.”

We all break out into laughter as I tell her, that funny enough, over the last couple of weeks that exact sentiment has been at the top of the 365 responses. As harsh as it sounds, it’s really good straight advise… and as outlandish as it is, its possibly words to consider in making our daily decisions.

That said, lets step back from the silliness and pick it up in looking ahead.

Thomas defines his observance of society, “The reality is that the world is very confrontational.

So many people are black and white in their expectations. Basically, too many individuals believe they are right and everybody else is wrong. They pick their sides and are immovable. Therefore, to make any change… it’s almost war. And rather than each side listening to each side’s position or argument, they would rather blindly fight.

We need to realize we were all born into the same earth; and we all have to live together on the same planet. We all have to recognize we are all human.

Too many become self-centered in creating their own individual worlds and do not look out for the communities around them. This mentality has to change.”

Thomas and I share a nostalgic moment, “I remember my dad’s time and my life as a kid…” Thomas ruminates, “…it was different then. Businesses were not only about profit; they were more considerate of the fact that it was also about giving people jobs. Now new corporations are mostly concerned with making money and people are expendable. There are too many companies that lack humanity.”

Families are calling now, time to go see the works of our kids.

Thomas… Keep your positive perspective on society, and never forget, as told to us by many of our 365 friends, “The works of one are measurable.”

You point of view is impactful; it challenges us to listen, to respect each other and suggests to us a much fairer method of resolving conflict.

Thomas directs us to not necessarily feel like we have to perfectly agree as a whole. That would be an impossible task, and one that would run risk in suppressing the blessings of individuality.

What he is instructing is this… that we at least listen, and if we disagree, to take a fair stance in our lifestyles, our voting, and in finding ways to promote our causes that does not destroy others who are in differing courts.

I’m not saying that we ignore the intolerable, the murderous or any action that is an atrocity to humanity or the planet as a whole. But what is worthy of consideration is this, that in any war we choose to wage… we deeply explore all the sides of the conflict before we engage; and in that, we heavily consider the individuals involved in said conflict. It’s sad that too many times, innocents are lost in the shrapnel of the greedy or in through the proclamations of un-sounded opinion.

Today we celebrate a new generation of leaders at this USC graduation day. A day that, I’m sure, is being mirrored at many other educational institutions this afternoon.

And in this unified right of life starting, or life changing bon voyage… may we take example from its notions of solidarity, of hopefulness for the future and of its associated reflections on teamwork. All emotions that I am positive radiate from the list of campus’s conducting similar proceedings.

And with this example, shall we all choose to embrace one another in a cap throwing cheer and charge of passage.

The courtyards are clearing now, caps have settled, gowns returned and the podium seen its last commencement speaker or the season. But as we depart the grounds in symbolically honoring our personal campuses of life, we are reminded to review our diplomas of lessons learned.

Absolutely… we all have all studied different disciplines in our individual schools of situation, and in doing so, have all received certifications for endlessly varied courses of study.

Yet in all diplomas received this day, is inscribed one simple line of calligraphy.

That line, “Keep up the good fight.”

Thanks Professor Thomas! We here you loud and clear.