To Our 2017 Graduates

 

To the Class of 2017,

The hardest thing about having an amazing father is not having him.

For as long as I can remember, as a child I lived with my mother in California from September to June, and with my father in Hong Kong in the summer. It never got easier to get on the plane knowing that you won’t see your father for another 10 months; September for me was never about back to school, it was back to more crying and missing my dad.

But even with so little time together, my father gave me everything I needed and then some. Most importantly, he taught me the one lesson that continues to guide me every time I wake up: it’s really hard to be a good person because the person who’ll always try to stop you is you.

We all want to be good–ask anyone whether they’re a good person, not many will say no. But if you ask people to go against their self-interest to serve others, you’ll get a much quieter response. Our brains were designed to make decisions based on what benefits ourselves, and it’s only natural that we choose ourselves over others whenever a choice has to be made. If we’re hungry, we eat–not offer someone else our food. If we’re tired, we sleep–not volunteer to clean the streets. Prioritizing ourselves is what we do and we are here today because our ancestors won the real Hunger Games: of all the species and civilizations and cultures, our ancestors won by doing what they needed to do to survive. It’s not just survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the selfish. It’s what we are, and we can’t ignore that.

As you continue on to high school, college, and beyond, remember to recognize the voice inside you that’ll never stop telling you to be selfish. It’ll give you whatever justification you need to hear so that you’ll care for only yourself and not others. No matter how much money you make, this voice will always say you don’t have enough to buy someone lunch. No matter how you feel, this voice will always convince you that you can’t afford the time and effort to help the needy. Sometimes it’s correct and you are too tired and you need to to take care of yourself first. But often it just wants you to think like others and care for yourself.

Listen to that voice and think for yourself whether you should obey it because you can never care for others unless you learn how to rise above it.

Take this lesson with you as you continue on your amazing path. Sharing this with you is why I became a principal. It’s a lesson that was taught to me with tears; not mine, Knowing that he has every justification to keep his son and daughter close by, he sacrificed being with us to do what’s right and sent us to grow up in America.

Congratulations on your accomplishments, and never stop thinking for yourself so you can care for others. We’re all counting on you.

William Ko, Principal

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