Congratulations! After 13 years of hard work you have been given an opportunity to stand before your friends and relatives in a flimsy gown and a square hat and then sit and listen to boring speakers. Some reward, huh? I hope your commencement program is more exciting than mine back in the Dark Ages.
Even if your commencement ceremony is already behind you, you will find that there is still much to learn. Nearly 60 years ago my parents gave me a collection of books from which I’ve learned a great deal. One of those books is sort of an instruction manual for life. I’d like to pass along a few of the instructions from that book:
On character –
• Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.
• A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.
• The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them.
• Wine gives false courage; hard liquor leads to brawls; what fools men are to let it master them.
• Good sense is far more valuable than gold or precious jewels.
• Some men enjoy cheating, but the cake they buy with such ill-gotten gain will turn to gravel in their mouths.
• To plan evil is as wrong as doing it.
• A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.
On family and relationships –
• Drink from your own well… be faithful and true to your wife.
• If you refuse to discipline your son, it proves you don’t love him.
• A son who mistreats his father or mother is a public disgrace.
• It is better to eat soup with someone you love than steak with someone you hate.
• It is hard to stop a quarrel once it starts, so don’t let it begin.
• The man who finds a wife finds a good thing.
• Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older he will remain on it.
On work and business –
• It is better to get your hands dirty and eat, than to be too proud to work and starve.
• Wealth from gambling quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows.
• Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.
On political and social concerns –
• Without wise leadership, a nation is in trouble; but with good counselors there is safety.
• He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need.
• Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die.
On faith –
• Reverence for God gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.
• We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.
• Your riches won’t help you on Judgment Day; only righteousness counts then.
As you may have already concluded, these bits of wisdom are from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, that "collection of books" my parents gave me many years ago. These gems originated thousands of years ago and are quoted above in contemporary English from The Living Bible, a paraphrase written in the 1960s. I am continually amazed at how little human nature has changed over the centuries and how relevant The Proverbs remain to us today. To anyone seeking a happy and successful life, I recommend the Book of Proverbs as an excellent place to begin the search.
So there they are, grads – instructions for a happy life.
Congratulations and best wishes.