(For those recently graduated from universities and colleges)
The vast majority of the world’s population is not as well educated as you are. Having learned how to think about, write about, and discuss great ideas, and having wondered and thought about a wide variety of issues and theories for the past four years, you now know how to ask questions, and that is likely your greatest accomplishment so far. Most of the world’s population does not know how to ask questions.
It could be that your ability to ask questions would have developed without the university classroom, lecture hall, laboratory, or gymnasium. But at the very least your university experience will have given you an improved and expanded perspective on questions and question asking.
For example, you now know that some questions likely have no answers and that other questions likely have multiple answers. You know that a good question that has an answer rarely has only one answer. You have discovered that many questions answer themselves if and when the questioner refines the question in the social and cultural context of the respondent. You know that the greatest question of all is the question: “What is Life?”. Life is what we’re all trying to understand.
The answer to this question is dependent on action. Life and all of its mysteries are only discoverable by doing things. Thinking and believing are necessary to set the context and purposes for action, but it is action that, over the long run, defines life.
As you officially leave this chapter in your life, you join the path of the larger society. The path is long, colourful, and interesting. It is also fraught with difficulty. The path is often unclear and sections of it are riddled with obstacles: potholes, mud, and sharp things. But for every difficult stretch there is a part of the path on which the sun is shining, a part lined with beautiful sights, a part leading to a valley filled with the wonders of human life, wonders which far outweigh the obstacles to happiness.
Now that you can ask questions, the world is hoping that there is a deep desire in you to find some answers. The world hopes you see yourself as a part of an inspiring universal journey, a journey towards a better life for humanity, a journey towards understanding, a journey towards discovery and invention. The world hopes that your university education has demonstrated to you how little you know, but also, how to continue the search for knowledge.
Your success in this great adventure will not depend much on the detail of the content you mastered in your university training. Your success will depend on you. If you can maintain high levels of self-respect, confidence, discipline, and self-reliance, you will succeed. Hopefully, one way or another, the past four years have given you some of these qualities. Don’t rest on what you have. Work on these things tirelessly. Read great books, listen to great music, study great art. Better still, – write, compose, play and create your own wonderful ideas, things, and situations! DO a lot. The more you do, the more you will dare to do. Interact with people and make their welfare your primary concern.
There is much to do in your world; you’ve got what it takes. Get busy! Good luck! And….keep on asking questions.