The month of May is almost here and that means graduation speeches are currently being formulated. I recently heard someone make an interesting comment on the ignorance of some graduation speeches that I'd like to discuss. In a commencement speech you may hear things like: "you face the most difficult challenges of any generation before you" or maybe "the world has never been harder" or worse yet "you are our greatest generation."
I don't want to trivialize the real and sometimes crippling hardships of the world today, but the simple truth is this: life is easier than it used to be. The life expectancy in 1900 was 42, it is now 76. In America, women and minorities have more choices and fewer limitations than ever before. Most people now carry around more information on their internet accessible cell phone than the any one person in the world had access to forty years ago. We've gotten so wealthy that we have new issues that we didn't have the luxury of worrying about a hundred years ago (think about child labor laws, global warming and animal rights). The fact of the matter is, we don't worry about starvation, political upheaval, or a whole host of diseases that no longer threaten the developed world.
This of course does not mean we should sit back and simply reap what past generations have sown. No, in fact the charge to this generation, as it has been for all, is to give our children and grandchildren a better life, just like ours have done for us.