Graduation Speech

The good life is… rebellion.

We must be brave and bold… and we must rebel.

You could be thinking, “But I am rebellious! I sneak out late at night, get drunk with my friends, and wear clothes that are more revealing than my parents like. I am a rebel.” Wrong. Look around. Look at the TV. Look at what generations of confused teenagers have been doing with their lives— the exact same thing.

But I’ll repeat: the good life is rebellion. OK, so against whom? Who is the authority? A good place to start is corporate America, which makes money through our weakness. They take our natural desires, like the desire to love and be loved, the desire to laugh, the desire to fit in, the desire to have fun, and they twist them in order to convince us that the only way to love is through sex appeal and sex itself, the only way to laugh is through dirty jokes, the only way to fit in is to wear the clothes they want us to wear, the only way to have fun is to buy into whatever they sell to us; in other words, they convince us that the only way to live is to obey them, to bow down to them, to be brainwashed by them, and to do so, they purposely and systematically rip away from us any sense of dignity, innocence, and purity in order to make a profit. We are who we are because it makes a profit for some guys wearing expensive suits sitting in a fancy office.

The good life is rebellion. We must rebel. But we must answer, why? Why not live in unquestioning obedience? Why shouldn’t we let ourselves be brainwashed by a corporation? Why rebel?

We must rebel because there is such a thing as Goodness and Truth; there is such a thing as deep and self-giving love, innocent laughter, human dignity, and true joy. The human body is beautiful and intimate and is not something to be bought, packaged, sold, gawked at, and exploited. I think we can all see that we are not truly happy when we give in, that the further we give in the less human we feel. We were not created for such degradation and dejection.

To prove this, to prove that giving in will lead to degradation and dejection, let’s look at some of the people who have most embraced our culture: celebrities. The question we must answer is this: are they happy? On the surface, the answer seems obvious. But when we look deeper, we see that many are not. So many of these superstars are known to have killed themselves through an overdose of drugs, and many more committed suicide through hanging, shooting, or drowning themselves. Most of them were young models, actors, athletes, and musicians who saw no meaning in their lives because their lives were our culture and our culture is empty.

It is clear that our culture leads to death, and sometimes even physical death. If we can see this through simply thinking for ourselves, why don’t we rebel? Because, first of all, it requires less effort to live the way we live. Our culture makes the most money by saying this, “Do whatever you want to do; do whatever will give you the most physical pleasure. Follow your passions blindly; give in to your every desire.” It is easy to do this. But, if we see that this does not lead to happiness, but instead despair, then we must admit to ourselves that something is wrong. But it is easier just to give in. Second of all, it is hard to rebel because we are scared. We are scared of the rejection of our peers. We are afraid to step outside of the nice little circles our culture made for us; the circles that include having fun and making money to spend on the products they want to sell to us.

But how many people have all those products and are still empty? How long will it take us to see that if our goal, our “end” is possessions and pleasure, then misery will follow us all the way through?

The good life is rebellion. But it is hard for us to rebel because we are lazy and scared. So how can we start? In order to rebel, first we must recognize that we live in obedience to corporations; we soak in the philosophy that was impressed upon us; we give into temptations and pressures. Next, we must try to think for ourselves. We must question why we listen to certain music when, if we think about it for a second, we know that it’s degrading, why we want to wear the shorter skirt even though we know that we’ll be uncomfortable every time we have to sit down, why we want to dance a certain way when we know we wouldn’t want our little sister to do the same, why we laugh at chastity when we know that we would want to marry the one who comes the closest to just that.

Rebellion is the good life. But rebellion is only good in so far as we rebel against the pressure of our culture, against temptation, against sin and evil. So we must question why we do those things, realize that we shouldn't, and then change. The path towards that rebellion, towards that conversion, will last the rest of our lives. It will be narrow. We will encounter thorns. But that path will be good, and will fill us with peace and true joy.

-A Thoughtful Teen