By: S.L. Frisbie, IV for Polk News-Sun
S.L. Frisbie IV Florida Newspaper Hall of Fame Member, 4th-Generation Polk County Newspaper Publisher
For many years, in late May or early June I set out to offer some words of advice for that year’s high school graduating class.
The dominant theme was based on my own college years — 1958 to 1962 (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) — and the importance of maintaining whatever religious faith had been instilled in them by their parents.
I captioned it “Keep the faith, graduates.”
In my experience, many college faculty members stressed what they believed to be the importance of “the scientific method,” urging their students not to believe in anything that could not be proven by scientific evaluation.
My response to this concept was that no one had the right to try to persuade you that your faith was not valid.
I seldom heard from graduates (nor did I expect to) but I got a few calls from parents thanking me for my comments.
I believe the concept is as valid today as it was 50 or 60 years ago.
But in today’s worldwide coronavirus pandemic with self-quarantining and “social distancing” rules, much of the advice for success in yesteryear seems somehow outdated.
If there is a predominant theme today, perhaps it is “Stay loose guys. This too shall pass.” We don’t know when, or how. Perhaps today’s theme can be repackaged as I stated it a half-century ago: “Keep the faith.”
More than ever, be skeptical of political leaders who put their own political interests above calls for patience and caution. Take charge of your own decisions for your health. Ten thousand deaths every few days is unacceptable.
Early in the pandemic, I heard the advice: “Our parents endured four years of World War II; we can endure a few months of quarantine.” Excellent point.
A few specific thoughts:
- If you go into my chosen career of journalism, maintain a commitment to accuracy and fairness, but learn the new technology for dissemination of news. My generation loves ink on paper; by all indications, we are the last generation to embrace that technology as the primary means for delivery of news.
- If you go into education, learn how to impart wisdom through “virtual classes.” The time-honored methodology of students and teachers interacting in classrooms is threatened, at least for the short term. Hopefully it will return soon.
- If you choose a career in medicine, law, banking, accounting, sales, public safety, public service, technology, ministry, manufacturing, marketing, or a host of other fields in which face-to-face communication is essential — which is just about all of them — never forget that there is no substitute for courtesy and empathy. The customer is king.
- If you go into politics, remember that you will not suddenly get smarter than the people who elected you; remember that you will learn more by listening to people with views at variance to your own than from bobble-heads who nod in agreement at every word you say; and remember the guarantees of the First Amendment. They protect the rights of the governed, not the egos of those who govern.
- And if you take an interest in the political world, even as an observer, never forget that both parties have good ideas. When every vote in Congress or the Legislature is split 100 percent along party lines, it is a sign that people we elected to office to represent our interests have chosen instead to blindly follow their party leaders. Insist on better representation.
Most important, members of the Class of 2020, keep the faith.
Good luck, kids, and always remember that your families love you.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He has three adult children and six grandchildren. He really wants this quarantine to end soon so he can catch up on hugging all of them.)
Reprinted with permission from Polk News-Sun