Do you know what I discovered last week? Tis the season for graduations and their illustrious speakers. Everyone from President Obama to Lin-Manuel Maranda (Alexander Hamilton), from Spike Lee to Steven Spielberg, from Condoleezza Rice to Seth Myers answered the call—all urging our graduates to become their best selves for the future, knowing full well that none of them has a clue what the future holds.
Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune/Cagle Cartoons
It got me to thinking about graduation speeches I would like to hear—especially during these unhinged political times. So many of us who are old now look back on the times we graduated from high school and college, and we wished someone had told us the truth about what was so come. Some of us would go to a war we didn’t believe in and die way to soon, some would get hooked on drugs, some would marry, divorce, and marry again—looking for love in all the wrong places—and most of us would live “lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” (Thank you Thoreau!)
Which is why, if I could choose a graduation speaker, I would choose Lucifer. Wait. Hear me out. What better entity—the Hoover vacuum of men’s souls—to bring a huge dose of reality to the graduation circuit of 2016 amidst all the Oprahesque “You can do anything you put your minds to—just believe.” Can you imagine . . .
Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star/Cagle Cartoons
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDERING ONE’S CHARACTER
BY LUCIFER B. ABADDON
To the presidents of high schools and colleges here there and everywhere, the boards of trustees of these illustrious, rather ill-informed institutions, faculty and staff, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, family and friends who sacrificed their hard-earned money, time, and attention for 2016’s glut of graduates across our great nation—as well as the illustrious graduates themselves—I want to thank you for allowing me to speak to you and thus set the record straight on behalf of reality.
Before I proceed, let me introduce myself. My name is Lucifer. Some of you might know me by different nomenclature: Satan, Beelzebub, Old Mr. Grim, Sneaky Snake, Abaddon, Father of Lies, The Deceiver, The Lawless One, and my favorite—King of the Bottomless Pit. Many of you have no idea who I am, although I’ve been stalking you since you were born, but there are a few of you who started walking on the wild side in high school who are well acquainted with me. (Hey, whatz up, Joel, Nadine, LeShaun, Kimmy Huang, and Ricardo? Party at my place tonight? Excellent!)
I wasn’t invited by anyone to speak today, but as is my wont, I decided to just take over and force my opinion on you all because your graduation speakers—for the most part—don’t know what the hell they are talking about. They have failed—as they do every year—to let you know that life is kick-ass hard! You’ve just spent the last four years in Paradise, and you’ve learned nothing that will help you withstand the many onslaughts I plan to throw your way during your journey. These were the best years of your life, and it is pretty much all downhill after this because adulthood sucks—bigtime.
Oh, I grant you that there were a couple of inspiring commencement messages if you are into that sort of thing, but you weren’t listening—the young rarely do. President Obama’s speech at Howard University was one I have to begrudgingly give a shout-out to when he said:
“We cannot sleepwalk through life. We cannot be ignorant of history. We can’t meet the world with a sense of entitlement. We can’t walk by a homeless man without asking why a society as wealthy as ours allows that state of affairs to occur. . . We have cousins and uncles and brothers and sisters who we remember were just as smart and just as talented as we were, but somehow got ground down by structures that are unfair and unjust.”
Blah, blah, blah, blah . . .
Of course, Steven Spielberg should probably be given credit for his commencement speech at Harvard that some people might say threw shade on me:
“Love, support, courage, intuition. All of these things are in your hero’s quiver, but still, a hero needs one more thing: A hero needs a villain to vanquish. And you’re all in luck. This world is full of monsters. And there’s racism, homophobia, ethnic hatred, class hatred, there’s political hatred, and there’s religious hatred.”
“A hero needs a villain to vanquish . . .” Okay, Mr. Spielberg, I see how it is. What did I ever do to you? (Oh, yeah, there was that Holocaust thing and the anti-Semitism that’s on the rise again . . . Sheesh, some people are so touchy.) Well, students of 2016, I know something about vanquishing villains because I am the consummate villain—the great character assassinator. If you’re going to defeat me you’re going to need two things: empathy (“the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”) and critical thinking (“the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment”).
Cartoon used by permission: Parker, Florida Today/Cagle Cartoons
But “thinking” ain’t never gonna happen for most of you. Your education did not teach you to think. You were taught how to take tests—make the grades. In fact, according to the latest statistics from a confidential poll, 74% of you cheated in high school to make the grades you got to get you into these fine universities that many of you cheated in at some point in your tenure (at least once or twice) in order to graduate in excellent standing to get the great, well-paying jobs you now covet. And as to empathy, you’re the “selfie” generation, remember? Kim Kardashian was your favorite professor. [A few boos can be heard in the audience.]
Don’t believe me? Okay, case in point. Your first act of official grown-up business will be to vote in November. You have a Republican nominee (Donald Trump), who says that he can be all things to all men just so long as they are not Mexicans, Arabs, ugly women, and people who challenge him or contradict something he has said. (Talk about a man with no empathy.) He has promised to “make America great again”—translation: when “White was might and always right.” He, himself, is being exposed as a cheater and a liar due to his duplicitous dealings with something that he dubbed “Trump University.”
Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star/Cagle Cartoons
Now “The Donald” is one of my best students, by the way—he can lie like no other. Passed “Lying 101” with flying colors. The Huffington Post assigned five reporters to comb through Donald’s presidential debate answers and they found “71 separate instances in which Trump made a claim that was inaccurate, misleading or deeply questionable.” “. . . basically one falsehood every 169 words, or 1.16 falsehoods every minute,” the reporters said.
What makes you think you won’t fall for my disciple’s crap? I was at the graduation ceremony of your 54th Speaker of the House when he graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 1992. Smart, squeaky clean, good upstanding Christian who wanted to be President of the United States someday. I thought he was incorruptible. He slipped right under my radar in 1992 as someone who would eventually be working for me, but I just got a report in from my peeps that he sold his soul to me the other day in exchange for a measly conservative agenda even though he swore he’d never capitulate and “accept ugliness as the norm.” Sweet! Only a remnant of the GOP has refused to affix their lips to The Donald’s ass, but the majority (even John McCain—the war hero who The Donald besmirched) have surrendered their souls because staying in power means more to them than good character.
Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch/Cagle Cartoons
And don’t get me started on your religious leaders who claim to be the “keepers of the American way.” For instance, did you know that on June 21st my man, Donald, will meet with 500 of your most prominent evangelical leaders? According to the Daily Beast, they will include such illustrious folks as “Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, radio host James Dobson and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ronnie Floyd.” They say the meeting is about getting more comfortable with Donald Trump as their standard bearer, I say it will be a meeting where they murder what little character they have left in exchange for power—power to pick the next several Supreme Court Justices (and to ensure they are conservative), power to thwart the equality advancements for the LGBT community, and power to overthrow women’s rights. They want assurance that they will have a candidate to beat the Democrat. The uber-Christians want to win so badly that they don’t even know they are being played.
Did you know that according to Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast, the “Donald J. Trump Foundation contributed $100,000 in 2012 to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and in 2013 gave $10,000 each to the Family Leader, an influential Iowa evangelical group, and to Samaritan’s Purse,”—setting the stage years ago for The Donald’s (or should I say, my) manipulation and purchase of the souls of your prominent Conservative Evangelicals. Well played Donald, my disciple—well played!
Can you hear me? Do you get the gist of what I’m saying? You have the power to vanquish a villain as soon as November 2016 if you look up from your cell phones. Of course, the best way to ensure evil’s inevitable victory through Donald Trump is to simply do nothing.
Cartoon used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune/Cagle Cartoons
That said, thank you all for your time. This is the last piece of “free advice” I give you. Everything costs, so don’t expect me to do this again. I must run now. I need to get back to roaming the Earth and seeking whom I may devour. I’m sure I’ll be seeing many of you again throughout your lifetimes and especially at the end of your days which will be a lot sooner than you think. (I know that’s hard for you to imagine because you’re young, and you think you’ll never die.) In any case, the fastest way to get in touch with me is to murder your character and hit 666 on the speed dial of your phone after you do so. I’ll come running . . .
ELEANOR’S “SELAH” (“AHA” MOMENTS) ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING
I am discovering that I agree with Founding Father Thomas Paine that “these are the times that try men’s souls.” He was saying it about the late 1700s, but it has been true since the birth of man, and it is true today. There hasn’t been a time in the history of man when humans didn’t have to pay a steep price in order to choose to do the right thing. We, the Baby Boomers, sacrificed ourselves to figure out the science to put men on the moon, gave our lives to bring about civil rights and women’s rights, declared war on poverty, defused the cold war, bought a fruitless land war in East Asia to an end, gave the world personal computers and cell phones, and of course, turned music inside out by giving the Universe the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Bob Dylan, and Motown. But we are getting old, and sometimes old people sell their souls for a little peace and quiet and the assurance that they will be given nostalgic tickets to the “good ol’ days.” We need the next generation to shake up our world just as we did our parent’s generation. Let us hope that our children and grandchildren will “rise up” and do the right things to make our world a better place. If they do, we will have taught them well.
Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, CagleCartoons.com
“. . . all of us as leaders can hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and decency . . . we shouldn’t accept ugliness as the norm.”—Paul Ryan in March before he sold his soul to the Devil
“I think this is a different election; this is a different time in American history. You can’t have it both ways. … I just can’t believe there isn’t another candidate, at this point, that they would say, ‘You know what, I’d rather go down behind the right person than sell out America, my principles and everything I’ve worked for all my life to get behind somebody who I don’t believe in.’”—Mika Brzezinski’s reaction to Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Donald Trump
“At Liberty [University] last week, Trump, who identifies as a Presbyterian, drew laughter when he called the Bible’s Second Corinthians ‘Two Corinthians.’ Many evangelical leaders have criticized his admitted extramarital affairs and failure to ever ask for God’s forgiveness, but Falwell today called him ‘a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”—J.C. Derrick, World
“Today, you start down the path of becoming the generation on which the next generation stands. And I’ve imagined many possible futures in my films, but you will determine the actual future. And I hope it’s filled with justice and peace.” —Filmmaker Steven Spielberg/Commencement address to Harvard’s Class of 2016.
SPEAKING OF ONE OF MY GENERATION’S PROFILES IN COURAGE AND CHARACTER . . .
RIP, MY BROTHER—YOU WILL BE MISSED
Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, CagleCartoons.com
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