I want to start by congratulating Four Winds graduating class of 2006. Let's give them a round of applause please.
I am very proud to be standing before you as your guest speaker. To have the privilege of speaking in front of the 2006 Four Winds high school graduates, the staff of Work Winds Community School, and community members is truly a great honor. Because it is a great honor to speak at this event, I tried to pick a topic that would not reflect my personal animosities, and I tried to stay away from a topic that would denigrate any one individual, or group of individuals. Instead, I tried to pick a topic that will empower at least one individual, especially one of the young men and woman graduating today, as he or she goes about their daily life.
I am going to talk briefly today about two closely related characteristics; self-responsibility, or responsibility to one's self and self-honestly. What is self-honesty? It is when you know your actions, habits, deeds are wrong and are willing to change them. It's as simple as that. While total self-honesty/self responsibility may not be possible, I truly believe those individuals who work hard at practicing these two virtues are better students, better parents, better employers and employees, and generally more successful in their lives then those who do not.
Now a person, especially a young person may ask the question, "What is self-responsibility/self honesty?" That's a good question. A very wise person once told me, "next time you are feeling sorry for yourself because something is going wrong in your life, try tracing what ever is going wrong back into your past, and if you are honest with yourself, you will discover that at some point in the past, you could have done something back then to prevent the wrong that is happening today." He went on to say, "if you do that every time something goes wrong in your life, you will find that you could have prevented 90% of those bad things from happening to you. However, recognizing the source of what went wrong is not enough." He went on to say, "you then have to take the responsibility to change the behavior that caused your misfortunes to begin with."
Now I realize there are some events that we have no control over: sickness, accidents, and the action of other people are three things I can think of that we don't have control over. What I am talking about are events that you do have some control over and the desire to do something about it.
Let me give you two obvious examples of self-responsibility and self-honesty. Let's say a student misses 10 days of school and is expelled from school, or a school employee constantly misses work and is fired. Their level of self-honesty and self-responsibility will determine how they will respond to consequences of their actions. The individual with little or no self-honesty/self-responsibility will blame the system or someone else for the consequences of their actions, and make no changes to their behavior. On the other hand, the students or worker who are honest with themselves will realize they could have prevented their expulsion, or firing by simply getting up each morning and going to school, or reporting to work every day. Self-responsibility/self-honesty will cause this person to modify his or her behavior to ensure it doesn't happen again. It's as simple at that.
When you apply self-honesty/self-responsibility to all aspects of your life, you will find out that you will argue less with family members, fellow students, and co-workers. You will find there are less and less crises in your life, and you will change many of your habits that cause you trouble. Self-responsibility will nip many crises in the bud because they won't have a chance to grow and become a problem. You will find out that you spend less time feeling sorry for yourself, instead you will be enjoying yourself more because you have taken steps to keep bad things from happening to you. Finally, your new attitude will gain you the respect of your family, friends, and community.
I would also venture to say, the greater the number individuals with self-responsibility in any given community, the healthier that community is going to be. Absenteeism will decline in the schools and workplace. There will be less conflict in the schools and in the workplace due to policy and procedures being followed. The community will become safer due to its laws being followed. All types of social ills will decline: child abuse, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, favoritism in school and workplace. Less and less people will depend on community services, and those who receive services will receive them based on need, not on who they are related to.
Why do some individuals take responsibility for their actions and correct their harmful behavior, and others don't? Is it character, or lack of it? Is it habits learned and hard to break? Those are questions only you as an individual can answer? Strictly speaking, for myself, I try very hard to follow the advice given to me long ago. Moreover, I admit there are times when I don't do so well and I usually end up paying dearly for it. But, I truly believe that I would not be where I am today; I would not be alcohol and drug free, I would not been capable of raising my sons and daughter as a single parent, I would not have returned to school and received my college degrees, I would not have my own company and I would not be enjoying my life today, if I did not try very hard to follow that simple piece of advise that was given to me so many years ago.
In closing I would like to leave the graduation class of 2006 with this advice. In the upcoming months, as you plan your future, look for a role model that you want to emulate. The role model you pick should be an individual who is no more then four-five years older than you, but who has their life together. By that I mean a young man or woman who may be attending college on a regular basis, or some one who gets up and goes to work every day, a person who is not into drugs or alcohol, who has their own car, and is living on their own. The reason say only four-five years older then you is because you will find it hard to relate to an individual who is several years or more older than you. Older people have spent years getting where they are at and you might find it frustrating if you do not reach their level of accomplishment right away. Instead, by emulating someone closer to your age, a young person who exhibits the trait of self-honesty, you will find you will meet you goals more quickly. Do your best to emulate that individual and when you do, you will be pleasantly surprised to find your family, relatives and friends referring to you as a person who has taken responsibility for your life. Thank you.