Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

Today I would like to change the subject from politics and matters of legislation and law, to some thoughts on transition and change. Not being particularly introspective or philosophical by nature, there is, however, something about graduation season that gets me thinking about how we successfully move from one period of life into the next.

Our lovely daughter Shelby graduated college last Friday, and while I am capable of objective thought regarding most things, our daughter and her future are not necessarily among them. I remember with excruciating clarity her transition from crawling to walking, moving from elementary to secondary school, and her early attempts at being Shelby and not just Bill and Mary’s daughter. My instincts told me that I should always try to make everything OK, to keep her from mischief, from discomfort, and shelter her from the hard parts of growing up.

Fortunately, my wife Mary had more insight than I into the necessity of each transition, as well as the discomfort and sometimes the pain of moving to the next phase. I guess that, like many fathers, I had good intentions, but there is a reason why most of us have two parents.
Shelby graduated USC with honors and is very excited at the prospect of joining the world of work, of accomplishment and productivity. She and all of her friends are confident they have what it takes to manage and tame the seemingly chaotic level of change and disruption, which seems to characterize much of the contemporary economic world. As a father, I worry, but not nearly as much as I thought I would.

Here’s how I see it: In our efforts to nurture a smart, albeit headstrong young girl into womanhood, we allowed Shelby a fair amount of freedom to find her way. Like most young people, there were a few stumbles and setbacks. The absolutely heartening part of the story is that the stumbles didn’t result in depression and self-doubt. Far from it, they just motivated this young woman to work harder, to work smarter, to learn the right lessons from momentary immaturity, and to rise above her missteps. While I am not an impartial observer, I gained an immense amount of respect and regard for our daughter. She showed us the character, fortitude and resilience that I look for, and rarely find, in the folks I hire.

More importantly, I see in Shelby, and in many of her generation, the qualities that will allow them to take on the challenges of the less-than-perfect world we are about to leave them. They have grown up in what is for us, almost an alien environment. They see no problem in being a good citizen of the USA, while also understanding that our quality of life is no longer separate from the economic realities we share with our global neighbors. For our educated and idealistic emerging leaders, many of the old impediments, including racism and sexism, will diminish, in at least the developed world, as we in the current generation pass away.

One of the consequences of growing up in a hyper-connected world is that people are seen more in terms of what they can create, what they can organize, and how that creation and organization can generate an economy that allows us to grow a larger pie rather than fight over the existing pieces.

Finally, we congratulate our lovely daughter for her latest accomplishment. Growing up is hard. College is hard. Above all, change is hard. That said, we are prepared to be further amazed at who you, and your generation, are about to become, and what you will accomplish. Please remember that although change is exciting, those things that don’t change are still important. Among those constants are: truth, honesty, and most importantly, being nice to your parents.