May 27, 2013

The Most Inspirational Commencement Speech Ever: Nipun Mehta Addresses the “Me, Me, Me” Generation.

Source: Time Magazine

“Service doesn’t start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take.” ~  Nipun Mehta

I saw this magazine cover at the grocery store just the other day—I was there buying a card for my own son’s high school graduation scheduled for the end of this week.

I was offended, quite so, actually, by Time Magazine’s bold assertion—that this generation, was the “Me Generation.”

I thought about my own son, who for years has faced challenges that come with life and with living. By this label, he is also considered to be part of this, our most selfish generation.

But, what does Time Magazine know of the many times my son has set aside his own needs simply to help those ‘who needed it more.’

I think of that one Valentine’s Day, when I sat crying at the table—my own, very abusive boyfriend having ‘forgotten’ me on that most special day. My son, just barely nine years old bundled up in his best winter clothes and spent the next hour trudging through the heavy snow. And when he burst through that door, cheeks blistered red from the cold, I knew he had done something most special. “Mommy, come look!”

And there it was, in the hillside where the snow was deepest, and written in the largest letters I believe I have ever seen, a simple gesture that meant the world to me. It said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. I love you,” and for all of this world to see.

He could have easily just retreated to his room, unaware of the complexities of our ‘big person’ relationships.

Instead he braved the cold, and simply because he knew, I needed it more.

And, I remember the time when in the middle of the darkest night I received that call, “Mom, you need to come get us now. Dad, doesn’t want us here.” And when I arrived, there they stood, my son holding his sister whose eyes were filled with tears—and carrying in his hands, a plastic clothes basket filled with all of their most treasured belongings. He could have easily cried, but he held his head straightforward and high, and simply to be there for his sister.

Because she needed it more.

And when my health began this, it’s sharpest decline? My son was right there, doing all the heavy jobs around the house—and without, not once, ever having to be asked.

Why? Because he knew…how very much, I needed his support.

And now, on the occasion of him leaving this ‘nest’ and setting his sails to another, brand new world—he has just one question on his mind, that is, ‘How can I be of service to others?’

For you see, when my son graduates, he won’t be sitting around, self-absorbed into his video games. Rather, he will be swapping out his kid clothes for that of a military uniform.

Why? Because, he knows this world needs it more.

Sadly, being of service doesn’t seem to sell as many magazines these days. However, I certainly won’t be buying this one.

Why? Because, I know the reality of my own son’s heart better than any reporter living half-way across these United States might ever say.

Nipun Mehta, who was recently ‘selected’ to deliver this year’s commencement speech at The Harker School, an elite High School in San Jose, had this to say,

“This week, Time Magazine’s cover story labeled you guys as the “Me, Me, Me” generation; the week before, NY Times reported that the suicide rate for Gen X went up by 30% in the last decade, and 50% for the boomer generation. We’ve just learned that atmospheric carbon levels surpassed 400 PPM for the first time in human history. Our honeybee colonies are collapsing, thereby threatening the future of our food supply. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

And as he paused to look over the sea of young face staring back from this crowd, he continued,

“What we’re handing over to you is a world full of inspiring realities coupled with incredibly daunting ones. In other words: miserable and magical isn’t just a pop-song lyric—it’s the paradox that you are inheriting from us.”

Indeed, it is a daunting task—one that requires our loving-kindness and support in helping this generation navigate those rough waters. And, our job here is not ever done—rather, our job here has just begun.

“At the core of all of today’s most pressing challenges is one fundamental issue: we have become profoundly disconnected. We’ve forgotten how to rescue each other.”

Ironic, that this spiritual distance occurs in a world where Facebook has recently surpassed more than 150 billion connections. And yet, we all know the capacity for loving-kindness and compassion exists within each of us in so many ways. It’s part of our spiritual DNA—that magical sequence of ‘coding’ that compels us to greatness in times of hardship or tragedy.

“We know we have it because we saw it at Sandy Hook, in the brave teachers who gave up their lives to save their students. We saw it during the Boston Marathon when runners completed the race and kept running to the nearest blood bank.  We saw it just this week in Oklahoma when a waiter at a fast food chain decided to donate all his tips to the tornado relief efforts and triggered a chain of generosity.”

And why? Because, just like my son, they realized someone else needed it more.

I think Time Magazine has perhaps missed the mark on this one. We don’t live in a “Me, Me, Me” generation—we just live in a world that is awfully, very confusing.

And, our job here today—is to share a little of our own light each day with this world.

Why? Because, I believe this generation needs it more.

Video: The Most Inspirational Commencement Speech Ever.


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