For many in this area - and around the country - May is graduation month. It's a very special time when high school and college students end their formal education and enter the "real world." And right now, it's a truly scary time.
We all want to be optimistic about the prospects for graduating classes. More often than not, we believe their future is brighter than the prior generation. Our changing world offers opportunities beyond most imaginations. And those opportunities are just waiting for the next generation of graduates to make their mark in this world.
But what we have known in the past may well not apply to this class of graduates. I'm not sure if we should offer condolences or apologies for the world they will inherit. Either way, these fresh-faced graduates will likely face challenges unlike any graduates in the past. And at our current pace, the same can be said for graduates in the near future.
We're told - and I firmly believe - that virtually anything is possible. Yet because of "global" circumstances beyond their control, these graduates face a daunting outlook for the future.
There's no true benefit to rehashing the looming financial crisis facing this nation. Heck you need not look beyond our own state where massive - and I do mean massive - budget cuts are in the works.
But if you want to know who will eventually pay the price for the boneheaded decisions on the financial front, look into the faces of this year's graduating class. The future generations we speak of who will pay this debt will walk down the aisle later this month. We don't have to wait for our grandchildren. It's these graduates who will be on the front line when the bill comes due.
For that, we owe them an apology even if we believe in our hearts that we had nothing to do with the massive problems we face. If we elected leaders who are part of the financial problem, then we too share in the blame.
Throughout our history, an education degree was a ticket to a higher level of success. It was not a guarantee but it was a ticket to ride the bus to the next stop. Unfortunately, that next stop lacks the promise and hope and optimism that has always been the case.
I don't mean to sound hyper-pessimistic by any means. But there's no benefit in offering optimism where none exists.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should look at it differently. Perhaps it will be this class of graduates who will use their education and their creativity to find a path out of this financial mess that seems all too imminent.
Our hope and prayers remain the same this year as in all years past. We want only good for these graduates. We want their dreams to be within their reach. We want their future to offer the same chances for success that prior graduates enjoyed.
I just hope we haven't dashed their hopes before they step to the starting line.