I T'S ALWAYS amusing that people refer to the college experience as the start of "the real world." Because - and thank goodness for this - it is about as far from the real world as one could get without controlled substances. The distance between the University and the pressures of the "real world" provide us the proper time to reflect on what kind of people we want to be. As graduation approaches, I ask myself, "Is this it?" Am I the man I was supposed to become? Just what does the University mean to us? U.Va., my dear, I will miss you. You're tattooed on my soul in a way unlike any other, and what a blessing our time together has been.
It is easy to lose perspective on how fortunate we are as University students. Our lot in life is one of tremendous responsibility - whether we leave this place in three years or three weeks. The privilege of attending this school is a blessing that requires us to do what we can to make the world a better place - even if that means only doing what we can in the neighborhood we live in.
This wonderful publication has for the past four years afforded me the chance to speak with over 10,000 readers weekly. I'll take advantage of this last chance to make a few final points that need a touch more emphasis.
Appreciate The Cavalier Daily. No, the Managing Board did not put me up to this. This staff works for free and spends many, many hours each week - in addition to schoolwork - to assure that you can stay up on what is happening in the community and the world around you. You might have problems with this paper, but be thankful you can pick up a new issue every morning.
Leftists don't get it. As we see on the news with these ridiculous protests in Quebec City, the far left holds truly absurd beliefs. Now, I'm not talking about your traditional Ted Kennedy-style, old-school liberals. I'm talking about your Ralph Naders and Susan Sarandons - people who think all the evils of the world are invariably America's fault, and that the government is always the solution to every problem. These people complain about George W. Bush when they, by voting for Ralph Nader, helped put him in the White House.
Rightists don't get it. The right wing is equally off the mark. These people arrogantly claim a monopoly on morality, a claim that galls me to no end. Many honor the Confederate flag as a symbol of their heritage, intentionally omitting the fact that one should not honor one's heritage by displaying a symbol of its most disgraceful period. They disregard the health of our environment - this beautiful world God gave us - for the sake of one extra penny of profit, or the chance to buy an even larger SUV. These people believe that because America is the world's leader, it can run roughshod over the rest of the world - or even ignore it. The truth is, because we are America, we have to lead humbly and set the best example. This is how you earn true respect. Such ideas are anathema to these people.
Several years ago, some family friends were at our house for dinner. The husband recounted the story of when his son, Peter - who had been adopted from Canada - was deciding whether to become an American. The father was a lobbyist by profession, and so he took Peter to the late, legendary Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill. Tip told Peter that being an American is about three things: love God, love your parents and love your country. This is what it all comes down to.
I love God because He has been so good to me in ways words cannot articulate. It is all I can do to make the most of the countless blessings the Big Man Upstairs has been kind enough to give me.
I love my parents because they gave me life and a strong family background I have only begun to truly appreciate. Such a gift as this stays with and influences you your whole life. For that I cannot ever give enough thanks.
I love the United States of America - this beautiful, brilliant, tragic, funny, wonderful country - because it is the only nation on our planet where - if you work hard and play by the rules - you can go as far as your dreams will take you. Maybe that's trite to you, but believe me, we are the only country where such a notion is engrained into our national spirit. Of all the blessings I've received, being an American might be the most important one of all.
So that's it, my friends. The Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frank Sinatra, nailed it when he said "You gotta love livin' baby, because dyin' is a pain in the ass!" It certainly applies in this case. It has been a fun, educational, controversial, always-interesting four years (not forgetting one fantastic semester in Buenos Aires). You now have the three ingredients to a satisfying life. I'd add one more - love for one another. We put them all together, and, my brothers and sisters, we're gonna be all right.
(Timothy DuBoff's column appears Thursdays in The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.)