I and many others will be graduating in the coming weeks, so for many this will be that last chance to reda one of my columns. Here are a few principles and lessons that I hope readers (all five of you) have learned from reading my columns; otherwise, all was lost.
First, don’t go through life thinking you are automatically entitled to everything. Regardless of whether you like it, you get what you pay for in life. Nothing in life is free, and no one owes you anything.
Don’t blame others for problems you have caused. Living in a free society means taking personal responsibility for your actions. When you make bad decisions, don’t try to find a scapegoat; try looking at yourself first. No one but yourself is to blame for your mistakes, so try to make the right ones.
Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something because of your perceived disadvantages. Throughout our society, we see examples of this everyday. This kind of negative mindset about life will lead you nowhere but down.
Always remember that God endows every individual with certain unalienable rights. This means that no matter how good the motive may be, denying individuals their rights in order to promote a “greater good” is still wrong. It’s that type of philosophy of “the ends justifying the means” that has always gotten societies and individuals in trouble.
Just because something may be a “good idea,” that doesn’t mean that it is worth government trying. If it’s such a good idea, some willing person in the private sector is bound to try it. If he succeeds, we then know that it’s a good idea. If he fails, we know it was a bad idea. But if government tries it and it fails, we all lose. Tons of taxpayer money has been squandered on all sorts of schemes that were once thought to be “good ideas.”
Don’t confuse government handouts with charity. Real charity comes from caring individuals who voluntarily give their time, money and selves to help someone else, not from politicians forcing money out of people’s hands. Such political decisions are based on false piety. It’s always easy to spend someone else’s money.
Take another look at the traditions that have sustained us through the years, and don’t be so dismissive of them. Faith and traditional values may not conform to your lifestyle, but they’re still a great way to avoid problems in life that can result from bad decision making. Even if you can’t bear to live by traditional values, at least have respect for those who choose to do so, and don’t try to impose your beliefs on them. That goes the other way, too. Just because your traditional beliefs tell you to do something, it doesn’t mean that you have to force others to do it as well.
Try not to forget that just because someone doesn’t see things your way, it doesn’t mean they’re ignorant or brain-dead. They may just have a different set of values than you do. It’s the height of arrogance to think that you are an omniscient, wise intellectual and anyone who disagrees with you is a backward-thinking, uneducated ignoramus.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. I hope that I’ve succeeded at least to some degree in sprinkling a few quips about myself in my columns so as to not sound too uptight and serious. It’s people who take themselves too seriously that become a real danger to themselves and others. When is the last time you heard a joke made by guys like Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler?
This is a great country and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of problems. But a commitment to the principles that our country was built upon — freedom and faith — will see us through many of those problems.
And finally, to all of my fellow graduates: Congratulations, you’ve made it. Now don’t blow it.
Adam Fowler is a senior majoringin political firstname.lastname@example.org