It’s normally a time of year that graduating students can look out at a world full of promise and at least some kind of certainty of what their futures might look like.
So, how does the Class of COVID-19 navigate a world that appears to be anything but?
It is almost impossible to write a commencement speech (or grad editorial) without invoking some kind of platitude along the lines of “this is your time” or “your class will shape a better world.”
This year alone, Malala Yousafzai – the Pakistani activist for female education and herself a member of the Class of 2020 – said: “The class of 2020 won’t be defined by what we lost to this virus but by how we responded to it. The world is yours now and I can’t wait to see what you make of it.”
Former U.S. president Barack Obama was no less unoriginal.
“Nobody can tell you anymore that you should be waiting your turn, nobody can tell you anymore that this is how it’s always been done,” he said. “More than ever this is your moment, your generation’s world to shape.”
The problem is, what else can you say to a generation that is moving on to the workforce or further studies in an era of unprecedented upheaval.
Some wisdom of the ages may be appropriate. Plato, the greek philosopher and founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western World, said: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister said: “Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.”
It’s unclear where it came from, but a popular Christian axiom holds that “When God closes a door, He opens a window” meaning, of course, to treat setbacks as opportunities.
In his commencement speech, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau compared the current circumstances to those faced by the generation that came of age at the end of the Great Depression and beginning of the Second World War, often referred to as the “Greatest Generation.”
“They sacrificed a lot, they dreamed big, they worked hard, and they left us a world far better than they found it,” Trudeau said. “The challenge facing the Class of 2020 is not dissimilar.”
You’ve got your work cut out for you.
The necessity is there, there is no shortage of crises, a lot of doors are closed.
You’re going to have to be inventive, you’re going to have to think deeply, and work hard, but the window is indeed open for you to be the next “Greatest Generation.”
The Interior News hopes you are.
Now, get out there, get to work, and change the world for the better.