Malheur County grads: You can help build a better community, world

Hey, high school seniors. Do you have a moment? We’d like to chat.

We’re hopeful that in your next phase of life, we can count on you. Your family, your community, and your country need you now more than ever. No matter your path once out of high school, you should step into these tumultuous times with a “can do” attitude.

As you do, remember that character counts. Yes, it’s a T-shirt slogan and pops up on posters, but it’s an effective guide. By character, we mean integrity – honesty in actions, truthfulness in speech. By character, we mean humility. Don’t absorb the lesson of the current times that you are an expert just because you have an opinion. By character, we mean compassion. Be caring of those around you and especially of people you don’t know.

Character emerges, too, in your service. Never forsake the importance of family, even over distance and over time. Take care of yours. When you are employed, remember your duty to service to your employer. On the clock, do the job well and do it right. And then there is service to your community. Perhaps you volunteered for projects in school. Remember the satisfying sense that comes from working shoulder-to-shoulder with others to accomplish something good. When there is a call for community volunteers, be among the first to raise hands – and then urge others to do so as well.

Where you serve your family and community will be up to you. Many of you ultimately will leave Malheur County. For some, that will be by choice. But some of you may feel you don’t have a choice for lack of local opportunities. Before you pack your bags for good, at least consider the option of staying and weaving yourself into local life.

Need more education? Treasure Valley Community College is more eager than ever to help you succeed. Need a job? Why not find a business to help grow or come back after your training to start your own? Don’t automatically assume you have to leave to find the satisfying life you want.

But no matter where you land, be a contributor. Contribute to civility. Our community, state and nation are too filled with angry discussions, name calling, and finger pointing. Little gets achieved except to see who can shout the loudest. Check yourself in such moments. Help lead us out of this testiness by a relentless grasp of civility.

Contribute solutions to problems. Goodness knows there are plenty out there. Be energetic and imaginative about considering: What’s possible? Very few problems or challenges are unsolvable. Most often, a particular problem needs a particular talent to dream up an answer that has yet to occur to others. If every Malheur County senior could help solve just one challenge, imagine the difference the Class of 2017 could make.

Remember, though, that fun is just as important a part of life. Don’t forget to find the humor out there, the joy of being with family of friends, the exhilarating sense from exploring. Life sometimes seems to grind people down. The best rebuff of that is to take a deep breath.

In the end, just help us make ourselves better.  – LZ