Dear Justin

Dear Justin,
It is an important parental prerogative to inspect a child before he leaves home to enter the world. On a cold a day, a parent will check to make sure their youngster has his gloves on, that his head is topped with a hat, and that his coat is secured. Since this high school graduation marks your entry into the world, it is time for your last minute inspection. This check is, of course, a silly indulgence. Most of what parents can help a child with, they have done over the years and any last minute words, no matter how sincerely offered, are likely to be quickly forgotten. A parent might be able to button up a coat at the last minute, but there are no quick adjustments to character. Nonetheless, permit me the illusion that these words will not be lost.

Any burdens you may have, Justin, are burdens of wealth; wealth of intelligence, wealth of humor, and wealth of talent. Those for whom success comes easily often suffer from two aliments: the inability to sympathize with people who are less fortunate and the tendency to become discouraged when faced with unexpected adversity. Empathize with those who have higher personal barriers to overcome and face with courage the inevitable obstacles life will put in your way. Do not loose faith in yourself.

This fall you journey off to college. In his first year at William and Mary University, Thomas Jefferson overindulged his social life and over spent his personal budget by 50 percent before his natural inclinations to studiousness took over. Avoid the example of Jefferson’s first year and leap to the model of his subsequent years. You have an important obligation to make full and constructive use of your gifts. Meet this obligation first.

You have honored your mother and myself by the young man you have become. At this point, I should point out to you the wonders of the world you now enter. It is perhaps fairer to warn the world of the wonder about to enter it.


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