Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated over forty books for children (of all ages) and their very fortunate parents.  One of those books, written in the early 1990’s, became a national bestseller.  The book, OH, The Places You’ll Go! is a compilation of rhyme verses giving advice to children on how to proceed in life when confronting the sometimes inevitable experiences of fear,loneliness and confusion.  Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Out there things can happen
And frequently do
To people as brainy
And footsy as you…
All alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
You’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.  There and some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on….”(OH, The Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss.  Random House, N.Y. 1990)

And, if you would indulge me with my own addition: “You’ll know the hard places. You’ll know the lonely places.”

These are words of warning and wisdom for those who will listen and are most especially suited for our beloved members of the class of 2018.

Dr. Seuss’ book can be a timely gift item for this year’s graduates.  After all, the Citadel family shares reasonable concern for the safety and success of our graduates.  We would like them to smoothly navigate through the difficulties of life.  However, we are also aware that it is impossible to shelter them from those hard and lonely places.  When life isn’t fair and when facing those mountaintop challenges, how will our graduates stand on solid ground?

From another book, written long ago in a land far away, comes timeless wisdom that is foundational to standing on solid ground.  The advice was given to a warrior preparing to lead a people into unknown territory.  Indeed, he was facing one of those dark and lonely moments in life.  Joshua, a man in his middle years, received three invaluable axioms for living that are just as applicable today and worthy of transmitting as Dr. Seuss’ pithy aphorisms.

AXIOM 1: BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.  Being strong and courageous is right as long as it is not spiteful courage.  It is also right as long as it is not a prideful, arrogant courage. Being strong and courageous must come from knowing the character and the providence of God.  I can have a sense of inner peace and confidence, not because I am tough but because my God has the record of accomplishment.  Yes, our graduates will have to face those hard places in life that will demand strength and courage.  Let us ensure that they know the eternal source of strength and courage.

AXIOM 2: LET DIVINE WISDOM BE YOUR GUIDE.  This is a critical element in arming our graduates to face a cynical world.  Indeed, the holy scriptures of the world’s religions are filled with the wisdom of the ages.  All of the collective efforts of humankind have never destroyed its veracity.  If its wisdom can permeate our thoughts and words, then one will be standing on a firm foundation.  What one believes will ultimately determine one’s behavior.

AXIOM 3: GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.  One day our graduates will face tough choices.  They may be tempted to succumb to peer pressure; they may fear the future or face loneliness.  The reality is that we are never alone.  To be sure, their faith will be tempered and strengthened as they affirm the presence of God in the midst of their struggle.

“And will you succeed? Yes!  You will, indeed! KID, YOU’LL MOVE THE MOUNTAINS!” (OH, The Places You’ll Go!)….Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

–(© all rights reserved) Chaplain Joe Molina CDR, UMSC / Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets

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