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Special Delivery

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The following is an except from a speech delivered at a high school graduation ceremony by David McCullough Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts, and has created a national stir.


"You are not exceptional. Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special...Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped...  But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not."


To me this controversial speech was right on the money. I have always cast a jaundiced eye at the idea of sending clueless youngsters who have been insulated from reality and inflated with an elevated sense of self esteem by their doting parents, into an arena where there is the distinct possibility that they will be blind-sided by a cruel world that is over-loaded with "special" people. An extreme example of this are all those rejected contestants on TV talent search shows who make fools of themselves on national television because nobody ever told them that they couldn't sing.


Those who claim this generation of parents have failed their children might take into consideration that much of this failure stems from them not instilling in their off spring the idea that being special is not automatic; not an entitlement but is something that has to be earned. Parental perspective had to be kept in perspective.  


So many drive-by shooting and street disputes among our young black men have their origin in brats masquerading as thugs unable to deal with someone dissing them and dismantling their  "specialness". Rejection is a bitch.  Police and society like to attribute this violent behavior to gang bangers, but the gang hierarchy of elders claim these "shorties" are out of control and such killings are random and unauthorized.


Eastern religions caution the individual about the insidiousness of the ego. It has to be kept in check because the need to be admired can not only be seductive but destructive. In the final analysis,  specialness takes on a life of its own because cream eventually rises to the top.



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