…I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.
There are the words from a graduating high school student. The top ranking high school graduate, at that. It’s not often that a graduation speech makes the news, but there’s good reason this one does. Continue below for more inspiration from the speech of Valedictorian Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 201o:
I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave…
For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.
The future is dark if we continue on with the norm, the standard our culture has been following for too long now. Erika’s speech highlights this very idea. Her words fill me with hope, and therefore I call attention to them here. But what does this have to do with sustainability?
Sustainability demands that have new ideas, look at things differently, and be the change we wish to see. If there are more Erikas out there in the world, then it gives me hope that we can achieve the sustainable future we so desperately seek. The world is ripe for change, and change is on the way with fresh thinking like this. That’s my hope.
Image credit: Flickr via Oberazzi