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The Black Cornerempty posted on: 6.01
Mike Ramey Mike Ramey
Graduation Day
by Mike Ramey
The Manhoodline
some text

graduationBrothers, with high school, college, and university graduation ceremonies soon to be upon us, I'd like to take the time to offer my congratulations and pat on the back to those young men among us who have made the sacrifices, and put forth the effort to better themselves in the arena of academic achievement. You could consider this my own Commencement Address. A tribute to our young men. I'll ask you to imagine that I have been introduced, the applause is dying down, and I am about to begin my remarks as to what today's graduates need to have to make it in our present society.

I have often wondered why Commencement speakers are usually someone rich and famous. It seems sad that the day of hearing parting and encouraging words from a parent, an elected official, or a minister has gone the way of the typewriter. In the modern view, a graduation ceremony is not 'complete', unless or until a 'name' speaker is in the house, and on the platform. Well, as a parent myself, let me clue you in to some realities that your teachers and professors may have told you--but you may not have caught the first time around. As you sit before me, clad in cap and gown, ready to charge out and take your place in society, remember these simple words from a simple man: There is no sin in being common.

Common men and women are the ones who made the sacrifices that put you where you are today. Two parent homes or single parent homes. We were the ones who paid the taxes, elected the leaders, paved the roads, and cleared the way for you to dream about your futures. Now, some of you may have forgotten us, but your moms and dads told me to remind you who we are. Some of us are the mothers in the home, who opted out of a 'high powered career' to be there when you needed your homework checked, or your tears dried. Some of us are the cops on the beat, the reporters in the newsroom, the 'third shift' men in the factories, or in the fields of education, finance, corrections, or in the ministry. But, one way or another, we were there when you needed us. When your homework was so complicated that it took a bank loan to get you a computer. When your hearts were broken by a relationship that went sour. In fact, let me say that, if you are truly blessed, you will eventually become one of OUR ranks. You'll have the opportunity to hear our words come out of your mouths. You'll have the chance to look at your own son or daughter when they DARE to challenge your authority in the home. And, you will nod, smile, and wave as they march across their stage, in their day to get their diploma or degree. As I said at the start, there is no sin in being common. 

But, in this land of plenty, there are those who hate common men and women. These people reside in the ranks of the 'politically correct'. They hang out behind television cameras, microphones, recording studios, and the silver screen. In short, they hang out in Hollywood. They don't much care for many of us--but they'll take the money we give you. The Hollywood crowd is anxious to tell you how you should face life. However, they can't cross the street of many an American city without their lawyers, accountants, bodyguards, psychics and PR people in tow. They do not revere your parents, young man or young woman. They don't have a clue as to how a common father will sacrifice, sometimes working a few extra jobs so you can have a little extra spending money for your 'trip' on Spring Break. They don't have a clue as to how a common mother may baby-sit a few of the children from around the neighborhood just so you can have that new car or new laptop that has become an 'essential' part of your lives. Nope. They don't have a clue as to what it takes to be a parent. The Hollywood crowd--the PC crowd would rather throw bricks at your family, love of country, and love of God, to make a few extra bucks at the box office.

Yet, when the lights are dim, and the cameras still--they secretly wished that they listened to their common parents and stayed away from the high price tag of low living. You see, future common person, those whom you pay to see or listen to, would gladly trade places with you, because they lost a good portion of their lives when they shunned the rite of being a common person.

'I'LL NEVER BE COMMON!' You may shout to the heavens. However, don't forget that those who have come before you have made the same claims, had the same dreams, and realized after working, existing outside of the academic environment, and looking at their rent payments, car payments, and the first and the fifteenth, that they became common--not to the negative, but for the positive. You see, young graduate, not everyone will make a million dollars their first year out of high school or college. Not everyone will 'make it' to Hollywood, the NBA, the NAACP, Congress, or to a Fortune 500 Corporation once they toss their hats in the air and pick up the ol' sheepskin. Your diploma is merely a down payment on life. To make it count, you will need a degree on top of that, and, maybe another degree on top of that. But, to make a difference, you will need something more.

And, for you young men in the crowd, there is more need for upright, noncompromising, and honest men these days, than in this nation's past days. My young brothers, you can't get character from a textbook. You have to develop it living life, in reality. One wise man remarked: 'Character is who you are when no one else is looking.' I'll give you a solid tip. Character is something learned from common men and women--like your parents, teachers, professors, groundskeepers, and countless others who have done their best to prepare you to be a useful member of society.

I'd also like to remind you where common men and women get their strength. Many get their ability to go on, day after day, month after month, year after year in seeming anonymity because of their firm, and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible. You know, that church house many of you went to when you were kids, but are going to head back to, now that you have become adults.

Oh yes, I've been down that road. Didn't think that I would need God. Didn't think that the 'Bible' was cool. After all, I had my diploma and degree, and thought that I could handle life, all by myself. However, after the first economic setback, after the first time you get fired, after the first betrayal by a close friend, or the first time you get sick and watch your savings go out the door--you come to realize that, perhaps, life is better lived with the God of the Bible, rather than without Him. After all, the time will come, future common men and women, when you will have to trust in someone bigger than yourself. The one who can make a way out of no way.

The one who can give you peace in the midst of a storm. The one who can send you to the right job, or to the right spouse, or bless you with contentment when others are going to pieces about you. At the risk of sounding PC incorrect, and offending the ACLU, you will have to determine where God, through Jesus Christ, will head up your life. I know that there are those who 'think' that they know more than God, but when we had nothing, were held in Slavery, and were forbidden to read and write, God sent his Word and Spirit to all whom wanted to partake. I've partaken, and haven't looked back! Now, go out there and be the best you can be. Society needs you now, more than ever. Many of you will find more success as a 'Daddy' or a 'Mommy' rather than running a multi-million dollar corporation. For, when all is said and done, it's not the number of trophies on your wall that will determine how you lived your life. It will be the number of friends, the number of grudges buried, the number of people whom you helped that will determine your worth as an adult.

These are the realities and joys of being common. God bless you and your efforts as you find His place for you, in what some have called a cold world, but a world--nonetheless--full of opportunities.

Mike Ramey is the author of "The Manhood Line" a column written monthly for men from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. To correspond, drop an email to
Copyright Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission.

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