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My Advice To High School Seniors – published in the Concord Monitor 6/9/2013

June 9, 2013 4 comments

My local newspaper, the Concord Monitor, solicited readers to write in and offer advice to graduating high school seniors. The advice had to be under 200 words. Below is my submission. Jon

To all you graduates of the class of 2013 heading into the Great Beyond, I offer the following line from William Shakespeare’s King Lear:

“Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel…”

It might seem like an odd bit of advice on this joyous occasion – feel what wretches feel.

I think the biggest deficit we face today is not in our economy. It is emotional. It is our lack of feeling for our fellow humans, animals, and the planet.

The playwright Julian Beck wrote that if we would really feel, the pain would be so great we would stop all the suffering at once. I would urge something considerably more modest.

As you set out on your individual journeys, try putting yourself in the position of the other. Imagine their feelings and feel them. That habit might lead you down some surprising, unforeseen paths that will enrich your life.

When my son Josh sings, he always talks about feeling the music. My advice is a variation on that theme. Feeling the pain around you will put you in touch with some universal blues and it will place you closer to the heart of humanity. Try it.