Don’t Be Afraid to Write New Stories!
A message to graduating seniors from Robert G. Anderson, Associate Professor of Political Science
Each year, my Global Experience freshmen read the novel Ishmael. Besides engaging many critical issues facing all life on our planet, a major theme of the book is to encourage the reader not to be afraid to write new chapters in his or her personal history -- or – if necessary – completely rewrite one’s story at any stage in life!
Personally, I have found this to be a simple piece of wisdom that constantly has enriched my journey through life. As you probably already know, it is very easy to become complacent with “the things” one has – or overly satisfied with one’s place and role in society. The trick to avoiding complacency (maybe), is defining “broadly and liberally” (using the term “liberal” in the context of your “Elon liberal arts education”) what ‘success” in life will mean for you – both as an individual and member of many larger communities.
Elon has offered you many tools to help you construct and define a meaningful and successful life. Besides depth of study in your major, hopefully your experience at Elon has shown you the value of the following for a successful life:
The real joy of life is “in the journey” – a journey that offers many roads to multiple destinations in life. But this will happen for you only if you are willing to “continue the ride.” Your education at Elon – hopefully – has given you some of the knowledge, skill sets and vision that will allow you to navigate your way to many meaningful destinations.
The challenge for you is to find a way – in our overly homogenized and consumerized society – to integrate career with larger life goals -- to commit to communities beyond self, to remain motivated to learn new things, to take the occasional risk, to look for new visions, to be receptive to new opportunities – and “live life” in a manner that shows that “your story is intertwined with the stories of others and is never completely written.”