What your high school graduate needs to hear: The responsibility of luck
Earlier this month, American writer Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, gave the graduation speech at Princeton University. He called it “Don’t Eat Fortune’s Cookie.” In it, he described an experiment that was held at the University of Califonia. Three people were brought into a room, and one was randomly designated the leader. There was no reason – just luck of the draw. And what’s more no obligations tied to the job. While the four were waiting in the room, researchers brought in four cookies. In nearly every case, when the three cookies had been taken, guess what happened: the participant designated “leader” snatched up the fourth cookie and claimed it for themselves. Keep in mind, the so-called “leader” had no special job, and had done nothing to earn the title. But nevertheless, he felt entitled to that extra cookie.
The point Michael Lewis was trying to make to those Princeton grads that day, was that they also got lucky. They had parents who could give them the childhood that made Princeton possible, and what’s more, in the majority of cases, could afford the tuition costs. They had the good fortune to be born in a wealthy western nation like the United States, to eat when they wanted, and sleep every night in shelter considered luxurious to most of the rest of the world (if not most of their fellow North Americans.)
We could say the same to our youth in Canada – who have been raised in prosperity, in the most educated country in the world. To most of the rest of the world, they are, in relative terms, millionaires.
They have won the lottery.
So what now? As Michael Lewis pointed out, their life’s work should not involve snatching the last cookie for themselves. They are to be thankful for that luck, and out of thankfulness try and make the world a better place. To share the fourth cookie with those who really need it, and who could turn it into fortune for themselves.
That’s a fitting message for our youth to hear.
A gospel message.
If you would like to hear the speech click the link in Michael Lewis link above. If you would like to read a transcript of the entire speech, click here: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S33/87/54K53/
Date: June 20, 2012