To The Class of 2018: “A Free Nation Begins with People Free to Think for Themselves”

May 15, 2018

First Liberty Institute’s Director of Community Relations, Lathan Watts, along with former First Liberty clients, Moriah Bridges and Brooks Hamby, send an inspirational message to upcoming graduates, encouraging them to seek truth and fight for freedom.

To the class of 2018, congratulations on this momentous occasion. As Director of Community Relations for First Liberty Institute, I have given many speeches but I can think of no other audience so filled with promise.  I therefore feel a great responsibility to present to you some thoughts that will challenge you, inspire you, but most of all encourage you as begin a new and important chapter in the story of your life.

Graduates, today marks the end of an era for you and the beginning of a new one.  I’m sure you are looking forward to continuing your education and beginning your careers. No matter what avenue you’ve chosen to pursue, don’t let anyone convince you that learning is confined to a classroom. Take responsibility for your own education.

Information is more readily available today than in any time in the history of the world.  No one can stop you from learning and no one can take away knowledge once it is acquired. The greatest lesson any student can learn is learning to think for your self. A free nation begins with people free to think for themselves.

The ability to think critically has never been more essential to a generation than it is to yours.  You have grown up in the information age where a universe full of wonder is at your fingertips.  Hundreds of twenty-four hour a day television networks and the Internet were available to you from day one. You process information faster than the rest of us, but in the information age, with the click of a mouse you are bombarded with fact, fiction, opinion, objective analysis and hyperbolic rhetoric all simultaneously competing for your attention.

You must hone your skills of critical thinking and apply the wisdom and discernment necessary to recognize the truth like one grain of sand sparkling in a desert.  My friends, there is no app for that.  You can accomplish this only by filtering everything you learn through the core principles, values, and morals you’ve been taught to live in accordance with.

It will not be easy. Sadly what passes for education on most American college campuses today is not the imparting of knowledge, but the indoctrination into a belief system. It will require character, strength of heart, and intense focus on your part to keep your intellectual and spiritual integrity intact.  Believing you’re right is not the same as knowing your rights.

Know your rights. Stand for them; defend them. Standing on principle can feel like a lonely place, but you are not alone. It will not be easy, but nothing in this life worth having is easily obtained and seldom is the right path the easy path.  Do hard things because hard things are worth doing.  Opportunities for greatness often masquerade as challenges no one else has been willing to take on.

Recent surveys reveal an alarming loss of public confidence in political figures, business, government, and the media. These studies conclude that no nation can function effectively without confidence in its institutions. Those institutions are made up of our fellow Americans.  This means we’ve lost confidence in each other.  You have the opportunity to change these and other institutions in our country for the better by living your life in a way that inspires confidence, earns trust, and commands respect.

Your generation will leave its impact on history by action or inaction. I’m not asking you to go out and change the world; but if you commit to changing your little corner of the world and pledge to never give in to cynicism or apathy, to live lives rooted in principle and service to those around you, there will come a day when you will look back on your life and count it as time well spent and the world will be a better place than you found it.

As Sir Winston Churchill said “Every day you may make progress, every step may be fruitful, yet there will stretch out before you an ever lengthening, ever ascending, ever improving path.  You know you will never get to the end of the journey.  But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and the glory of the climb.”

Graduation day marks the first steps down that pathway toward building a life of your own. So ask yourself what type of life do you seek? The founding documents of this nation state that God Himself has endowed you with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How will you define happiness in your life?  What will you pursue?

Will you seek truth? Speak truth? Live truth?  Your nation awaits your answer. So go from here with the confidence of your convictions and live with purpose, laugh without reservation, and love with reckless abandon.

Do not take for granted the freedom secured for you by those who came before. Carry on America’s legacy of freedom by defending it for yourselves and others. By doing so you will join a long line of patriots in the cause that founded our nation. All of us at First Liberty Institute consider it an honor to stand with you.

Liberty Watch News is brought to you by First Liberty’s team of writers and legal experts.

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