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  • Edición impresa de Junio 2, 2009.

Acknowledging error is the way to new paths. During this very decisive time the current economy has made us confront how we do things; which reflects how we see the world.

It takes years for a culture to build up a way of thinking, educating, and relating to one another. What we see in the periphery, which nowadays in this troubling economy, is only the outcome of a set of principles established by others and settled down in our conscience, such as “That’s how things are done” ; “ There is a right way to do things, implement and apply procedures to achieve”, etc.

For example, in the past little girls were taught to behave, be nice to everyone and please people around them. It was expected that females were not to compete in many fields but rather be the ‘silent partner’ of a every successful enterprise or family business.

As a way of reinforcing such behavior, girls were geared toward learning supportive roles as nurses, teachers and housekeepers. Even in the field of sports ballet, gymnastics and swimming were encouraged over competitive sports like soccer, biking, or boxing. There was a very definite line between boys’ and girls’ things. Nevertheless, during the war the economy required new labor and women marched into the factories to do their duty as members of society. That change in roles affected how things were done and what was expected from everyone involved. Changing tires, earning money, cooking and caring for children became a new frontier of knowledge and attitudes; which has created a continuous tension between genders.

In a world where everyone is by him/herself, education becomes the powerful wand that gives individuals power. So the most important thing becomes positioning oneself and having the most without any regards for the earth, or the people affected by our comfort.

It is very unsettling when life itself takes a new course and individuals have to rethink ‘who they are, what they are doing and why they do it’.

Is the liberal arts education that you now have going to be enough to secure any job? Do students have a guarantee that after many years of study they will be ahead of those who could not attend college? And when there is not enough money to ‘buy’ childcare, eating out, or cleaning help, who picks up the extra load?

Is your life defined by how much you earn and therefore where you stand in social circles? Has sharing been related to charity for ‘those who have not’, but in no way it is related just to the fact that we all need each other?

One of the revelations of recent days has been how people are creating all sorts of networks in order to pass around skills and goods. In doing so, a new society is starting to be created. People not only are reaching out beyond their ‘social’ circles but also are joining common causes to: look for jobs, share tools, share babysitting and even homes. What will happen to the earth if the Northern hemisphere decides to eat at home? What will happen if staying at home and enjoying time with the family becomes a priority in many households?

What world are the new graduates coming into? One thing is sure, leaders can only affirm and clarify where people have decided to go. There is a tendency to believe that regulations and plans come from the head down. History proves that people are always ahead of their ‘leaders’ in determining new paths and how to walk them.

Because life itself is the greatest engine, the younger generation will find new ways and reject the old way of thinking. Imagine the possibilities of new, more cooperative skills and their effect throughout society. Congratulations to all new graduates and their families! May God give you the opportunity to do things differently.

 


 

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