It is the ordinary individual that does extraordinary things that make them special. It only takes one idea and one course of action to change the society around you. Even though, Wellesley High English teacher David McCullough Jr. told graduates “You are not special. You are not exceptional,” quoting empirical evidence: “Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians … 37,000 class presidents … 92,000 harmonizing altos … 340,000 swaggering jocks … 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs,” he said in the speech published in the Boston Herald. He added: “Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you” (David McCullough Jr.) I disagree.
Yes there 6.8 billion inhabitants of Earth are similar but we are also very different from each other and that makes each of us special with the ability to stand out from the crowd and achieve extraordinary things. The thing about being and doing special things is that the person is not always in the limelight, they are not seeking accolades from the people they help, they are simply doing what they do because they believe in what they are doing. Mother Teresa did not set out to be a Saint. No she set out to feed the hungry to embrace the poor. We acknowledge her for her good works but there are thousands around the globe that do the same good works that Sister Teresa does but we do not know their names. That does not make a person any less special than Sister Teresa in fact that makes them more special that they do what they do not for fame or fortune but for humanity.
I was reminded just how special an ordinary person can be when I recently read about two such special people in our own community of Vincennes, Indiana. The daughters of Monica Brower who have founded a program called Lifesavers where they go and speak and educate the community on Sudden Cardiac Arrest and raise money to buy AED (defibrillators) for community facilities. According to a Facebook posting by Mrs. Brower her daughters donated 6 AED units at a cost of over $7000. These young people are ordinary and they are special. They are not the only special people, all around the world there are stories just like this one, unsung champions, unsung special people that are simply ordinary we just do not know their names or see the acts they do but the people that they help know that they are special.
The child that shares his or her lunch with a classmate that has no money for lunch, or the person that anonymously donates school supplies to children that can’t afford to buy them. It is the thousands of volunteers that go out of their way to lend a hand. It is the special acts that people do every day that make each person special. So in fact we are all special in some way but some of us by chance get more recognition than others. Being special does not mean that you will land the perfect job, have endless money to spend, or live a dream life, being special means that you are an individual capable of doing ordinary things that become extraordinary in someone’s’ eyes.
I would love to see the class of 2012 post all of their achievements so that we could all read about them and celebrate these people and so that David McCullough Jr. could rethink his speech and deliver a new message of inspiration to the class of 2012.