June is traditionally the month for graduates and for fathers. What do they have in common? At first glance, not much. But take a second look. Each is under a similar kind of scrutiny these days.
Today's graduates are expected to produce great new things in this age of great new technologies which are presenting us [and competing countries] with great new opportunities. At the same time, today's fathers are expected to become far more than their I-work-and-mom-takes-care-of-the-kids predecessors. The days of graduates resting on their academic laurels has been swept aside by the rugged meritocracies they are now entering. As for fathers, the days of hands-off fathering has not only passed into a condemned chapter in American family life, dad is expected to go further than simply coaching the kids' team and assisting their summer camp.
Turns out that the more our Nature/Nurture researchers study us, the more they insist we are biologically capable of more. The Genomes and MRIs are reporting back to these investigators vast untapped human potentials. It's no longer enough to-be-all-you-can-be. In the coming brave new world, graduates, fathers and the rest of us challenged to be considerably more than we've ever been. We are said to be on the brink of new frontiers of human re-engineering and robotics.
But my question is this: Is all this neurobiological research aiming us into the best directions as individuals and as a country; or is there something equally important at work in us besides our genes and memes, our circuits and chemicals? Like our human heritage.
As I listen to June's new graduates and fathers, I can't help also hearing more simplistic and un-researched ideals from long-ago family members. They had not only traveled through life, they had triumphed in it. So let me share some of what I heard from them many Junes ago. To the young graduates ~ Do the best you can with what you know at the time! To the young fathers ~ do the best you can to show how you love your children's mother!
A world of new graduates and fathers like that was I think the world my aunts and uncles were trying to tell me about. I wish I had listened more carefully. Maybe some of you will...
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