My humble advice to the graduates of 2013 rests upon one basic concept: This is a land of opportunity and tremendous freedom that rewards those willing to work hard and take chances -- don't squander this gift. This is your time to be creative and bold. And as difficult as it sounds, don't fear the risk of failure. The greatest people in history bared their souls openly for the sake of great achievement, risking embarrassment and utter ruin.
Failure is not a bad thing. It is through trial and error that real growth takes place. Understand that crises will always arise; it's God's way of shaking you out of complacency to rise to the occasion, to meet and conquer problems head-on, rather than becoming a complaining victim of circumstance. The more you risk failure, the more resilient and optimistic you will become. The world opens up to those willing to explore beyond their comfort zones. Never let the fear of failure prevent you from doing something truly extraordinary.
Suffering through the slings and arrows of life is simply a normal part of living, for adversity builds character, and character along with the right attitude propels people to achieve great things. This stuff was never meant to be easy. Those expecting happiness is due to them with little or no effort miss out on life's lessons entirely. It is through prodigious hard work that the sublime beauty of the world reveals itself, and you will find that opportunity often comes from the most unlikely of circumstances. True happiness does spring forth from work done well, for the rewards from your own creative efforts will have the most profound meaning. Never believe for one minute that you are incapable of great things, or that you are entitled to the fruits of another's labor.
Remember you are a smaller part of a much greater common good -- a single cell in the organism of all of humankind. Devoting yourself to serving others -- to something much greater than yourself -- will transform you, and ultimately you will discover that your work need not be drudgery but instead becomes your passion.
And always remember that action speaks louder than words, that optimism and hard work and creativity transcend and nullify all the ugly problems that the voices of mediocrity weakly complain about. As Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." This is your time. Seize the moment.
-- RANDALL S. FONG, Kennewick