It is not decorous to insult graduating seniors at commencement. But that is what the typical speaker does. There he stands on the dais, a picture of impudence, telling the assembled young people that they will be the Leaders of Tomorrow. So it is that all the crimes and follies that are to come are laid to the charge of our graduates even before they have the opportunity to commit them.
He cannot be in earnest. He knows full well that not ten miles away, at (to take a well-known example) East Podunk University at Yahoo Springs, the red-eyed graduates are likewise being urged to assume Tomorrow’s leadership, as Tomorrow will not oblige us by arriving on its own, but must be haled out of its den in chains if need be, dragging its scaly claws and snorting its temporal fire.
From coast to coast, in shrinking cities and in sod-carpet suburbs and on recycled farms, the future future of America is instructed by the present future of America, while the past future of America nods like Zeus, in fact like many thousands of Zeus, that they must be the Leaders of Tomorrow. And I imagine just such fervor and just such intelligence in swarms across the tundra of Labrador or the icy cliffs of Norway, Leaders of Tomorrow all, tumbling their way to the sea.