Richard Carnes: Two and a half words for Vail Valley high school graduates |

Richard Carnes: Two and a half words for Vail Valley high school graduates

I’m sorry.

For 10 years in a row I have had the pleasure of composing a column for local high school graduates, and this being only the second time one of my own has been included in the mix, I will selfishly add a word and say it again: I am REALLY sorry.

What we have done to each other, the planet and the economy while egoistically pursuing our own interests during your youth is unconscionable, and we owe each of you an apology.

Never before have I felt so obligated to express remorse for the sad state of affairs we are dumping in your spoiled little laps.

Yes, your laps are ridiculously spoiled, but before you get your shiny gowns all twisted in a defensive knot, realize it is that way because of us; our selfish ineptitude caused your problem.

Up until this very moment you have just been kids; some big, some little, some smart and a few not so much, but still kids, and as of this week you are now, ready or not, adults in the eyes of the world, and you had better be prepared for all the crap that’s about to be thrown your direction.

We made a mess o’ things.

To make matters succinctly worse, college tuitions are rising at almost the same rate college investment funds have sunk, causing some of your parents to respond to emails from Nigeria, and the job market looks about as appealing as renting retail space on Bridge Street.

Singing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out!” just doesn’t hold quite the same appeal it once did.

Anyway, let’s move on to a few helpful hints to hopefully propel you forward and actually accomplish something good for your fellow man, as opposed to the narcissistic nonsense we’ve been guilty of for the past few decades.

Understand that politics and religion control everything, but you no longer have to choose sides for either based upon how your elders told you to choose. Problems cannot be solved and questions answered with the same level of thinking that created them. So do your own research and reach your own conclusions based on actual evidence, not wishful thinking.

Put another way, if 95 percent of Americans wish to claim in a poll that they believe in Santa Claus, this does not add one iota of evidence for the Big Guy’s existence. Never forget the same 95 percent can wreak irrational havoc during election time and holidays.

Politicians will never stop scaring the naive (such as fresh high school graduates) by yelling that others are coming to take whatever they think is rightfully theirs (guns, bongs, pickup trucks in need of repossession, etc.). On the other hand, those who have nothing and fear having even less will almost always turn on those who are simply trying to make things better.

Realize that Republicans will continue to blame anyone not in their mirror and think the answer to whatever question being asked is to bring guns to TEA parties. Democrats will keep claiming that global warming will kill us all anyway, so why bother debating the details?

Do your best to avoid them both.

Don’t be a hypocrite like Miss California, who needs a book to be moral and wind to be nude in a photo, or like Joe the Plumber, who made a non-plumbing fortune off the GOP and then dumped them, claiming they went in the wrong ethical direction.

Don’t believe Rush Limbaugh or Nancy Pelosi when they claim to speak for you. They speak for no one but themselves.

Don’t condemn your president because he had the audacity to laugh at a joke by a comedian, but by all means feel free to criticize him (or her) if they make a policy decision you disagree with.

Don’t rant and rave about taxes, gay marriage, illegals or whose magical being is bigger and badder unless you propose solutions or proof at the same time.

Don’t plan to fail. But if you do, fail fast and then move on, making sure to never confuse equal opportunity with equal results.

Do pursue the right to happiness, but realize that “right” is in the Declaration of Independence, not our Constitution. If you’re not sure of the difference, perhaps you should stick around for another year of high school.

My single biggest suggestion is to spend the next four years (at least) secluded away in some college somewhere, which will allow us to either fix a few of the major problems we have created, but chances are we’ll just make things worse.

Either way, look on the bright side. Jimmy Carter was president when I graduated, so in that respect you’re already much better off.

Funny, but I don’t recall my parents apologizing.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism