Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Make Yourself Useful

At the commencement address to the all-female class of 2012at Barnard College in New York City yesterday, Obama’s advice to the graduates was:  Don’t Believe the Media.

His notes, following a Gallup Survey conducted last September that found 47 percent of Americans regard the Media as “too liberal” and 13 percent believe it is “too Conservative”, while 36 percent of the Goldilocks respondents felt the Media was “just right”.

He consoled the women for having it tougher than previous generations

 “My job today is to tell you don’t believe it [the scandalous stories in the Media – except of course for the denizens of the financial world whom he tells us are not ‘model citizens’,” said Obama. “Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher. I’ve seen your passion and I’ve seen your service. I’ve seen you engage and I’ve seen you turn out in record numbers. I’ve heard your voices amplified by creativity and a digital fluency that those of us in older generations can barely comprehend. I’ve seen a generation eager, impatient even, to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course.

“And that defiant, can-do spirit is what runs through the veins of American history,” Obama said. “It’s the lifeblood of all our progress. And it is that spirit which we need your generation to embrace and rekindle right now.”

My nephew just received his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.  Here is my advice to my nephew, the same advice my mother gave to me and some dissimilar advice from his maternal grandfather.

When I asked Grandpa for three words of advice upon my graduation from high school, he replied, “Ask your mother.”  My advice to you is, “Ask your father.”  Definitely do not ask your mother for career advice.

Grandma Evelyn’s advice to me was, “Make Yourself Useful.”  Right now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Yeah.  She would say that.  That sounds like Grandma Evelyn, all right.”  And she’s right.  Make yourself useful.  We know that you will.  You took my advice upon graduating from high school – the same advice I just gave you – and listened to your father; you pursued a degree in mechanical engineering.

Always have a back-up plan.  Always have another skill you can turn to if you can’t find a job in the major you took in school.  Fortunately for you, you’re smart, you got good grades, and educated yourself in a field with a future.

You’ll have lots of competition even in the field of engineering.  Just ask your Asian girlfriend.  I would advise you to seek a position in that field for which you are suited.  Your father would have you take a job that would help you climb the corporate ladder.  You may, in fact, have to take such a job to begin at a company.  But take the advice of the Human Relations advisor at his company:  you’re best suited for research and development.

You’re sociable enough, but you know you’re not like either your father or mother.  You’re not a hermit, but you’re no social butterfly, either.  While you’re kind and sociable enough to get along with other people, you’re also quiet and studious.  You’re no party animal, Nephew.  Remember your high school graduation?  Don’t let Dad nag you into a job where you have to, if my readers will pardon the expression, kiss butts to get ahead.  You’re the farthest thing from a kiss-butt and you know it very well.  How unfortunate that Mom and Dad had me care for you in the second year of your life.  I taught you all the wrong lessons for climbing the Corporate Ladder, I’m afraid.

You have a first-rate mind for solving problems, just like your great-grandfather (Grandma Evelyn’s father).  You have your father’s father’s mind for mathematics and his analytical ability.  You have both your maternal grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s mechanical ability.  You don’t need to climb anyone’s ladders, Nephew.  Of course, you should be polite and not provoke anyone, either.  Let your mind do all the work, keep your mouth shut, and you’ll go far.

So make yourself useful, and invent things.  Invent things that will make other things better.  You have the skill and the personality to be successful at it, and become rich.  Become rich, Nephew.  Become as rich as your skills have given you the opportunity to become.  Become rich because you’ll deserve it (Grandma Evelyn taught you well how to invest your money).  Become rich because it’s better than being poor.  Become rich because it will make you independent and give you the ability to help others, if you want to.

Become rich because it will make your Dad proud and Grandma Evelyn ecstatic.  Become rich because it will annoy the Occupiers and make Obama angry.  Becoming rich doesn’t get any better than that, let me tell you.  Become rich because you’ll be able to live well, buy a big house, and produce lots of little grandnieces and grandnephews for me to play with.  You’ll probably become rich someplace other than New Jersey (New Jersey is not the place to become rich - if you try, you'll fail) so when you become rich, you’ll be able to buy me the plane tickets to come and play with your children.

Becoming rich is the reward useful people earn for making themselves useful.  Congratulations and good luck, Nephew!

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