Thursday, May 18, 2006


I'm speaking this Sunday at the first-ever Baccalaureate service for one of our area high schools. Good times. For my spring board, I'm using the following introduction, taken from Charles Sykes:

  1. Life is not fair- put on your big girl panties and get over it!
  2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  3. You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't become a vice-president with a corner office until you earn both.
  4. If you think Mrs. Bradley is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents
    had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
  6. If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them. Besides, your boss doesn't speak WHINESE.
  7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are
    now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes
    and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So
    before you save the rain forest, try cleaning up your own room.
  8. Some schools may have done away with winners and losers, but
    life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and
    they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.
    This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
  10. Television is NOT real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to their jobs.
  11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

It's an excerpt from the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and directed at high school and college grads.

By the way....the 'big girl panties' line is mine, not Mr. Sykes....don't want to get him in trouble...


At 6:04 PM, Blogger Jimmie W. Kersh said...

do not forget that work is not a 4-letter word and that responsibility is a good thing, especially for yourself.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger scott m said...

Are you going to bring your big girl panties with you as a visual aid? [g]

At 7:30 AM, Blogger scott m said...

And while life is decidedly something other than fair, does it not seem that we are all wired with an expectation that it should be? Even the most cynical and crushed among us seem to still carry some fluttering spark of that expectation. And we find it painful that the world is not fair.

Is this deep desire for a world that is fair, which can also be called equality, justice, or a host of other names really something we want to get over? I once thought I had done so, but discovered I had been lying to myself. Now I tend to it a little more carefully.

Expressed as nothing but a whiny outburst of self-focused angst, the plaintive and drawn out, "It's not faaaiiiirrr!" is indeed something to be discouraged. But it should be discouraged for its focus on self exclusively rather than its often correct interpretation of unfair treatment.

Sorry. I know that had nothing to do with the tone or direction of this post. It's just one of those random thoughts that popped into my head.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

I'm thinking about bringing my 'big girl panties' but don't want anyone to think I'm a perv...

(for those that don't know, some high schoolers actually gave me a pair of HUGE lime green 'big girl panties' as a gift, because I kept saying to them 'put on your big girl panties and get over it..')

At 9:36 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

Scott said:
And while life is decidedly something other than fair, does it not seem that we are all wired with an expectation that it should be?

I disagree...we only want 'fairness' when we think we deserve something we didn't get our mitts on. I don't think we want fairness/equality quite as much when our neighbor gets laid off. I don't cry for fairness when I get away with speeding and my buddy gets pulled over and slapped with a $150 fine...

Show me the throngs of people who voluntarily flooded their houses in the wake of Katrina for the sake of
fairness. Or those who even proposed it be done....

I think it's related to our sense of greed more than equality...

But I'm a cynic.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger scott m said...

Of the generations living today, I think ours is the one most prone to darkness and cynicism. At this juncture in my life, I tend to think we need to put on our big girl panties and get over it. ;-)

I have watched my kids (often my best teachers) from a young age. I have seen their outrage at unfairness, sometimes on behalf of a friend, others on behalf of someone they don't know -- or even animals. Of course, they have all had their selfish responses as well. But those do not stand as their sole response. It simply illustrates the nature of the cracks that run through our being. We are a damaged creation/image of God, but we remain his creation. And it shows, all the time.

And through my wife and my children, my own cynicism has been softened. The cynic may protect themselves, but at the cost of being open to the voice of God. At least, that is how I discovered it impacted me. It may be pretty risky to extrapolate from my experience to that of anyone else.

Flooding your home is an absurd example. That has no relationship to a concept of 'fairness', but rather draws a parallel to some absolute of identical experience. We certainly react with outrage that such a thing could happen at all. And most of us also react to the unfair treatment the poorer residents of New Orleans received. We react against both the unfairness of a damaged creation and the unfairness of our fellow men.

Do we always respond from the resulting sense of justice? No! We're damaged, remember. Sometimes we do react from greed and selfishness (or even baser attitudes). But the cracks do not and cannot obliterate our created nature.

More than anything else, I smell the ... stale remnants of something called "total depravity" wrapped in a fresh tortilla.

But that could always just be me...


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