Michael Dorgan, Cascade High School
When you hear the term ‘world-changer,’ what do you imagine? Some may think of Bill Gates, others may think of Kanye West, and others may think of Albert Einstein. We think of famous, popular people that make a lot of money, hold a lot of influence, or have incredible knowledge. A world-changer is somebody that we often think is far off, hard to reach, and definitely something we could never become ourselves. However, I would like to suggest to you that there are world-changers sitting in every one of these seats today.
Even though I believe that we’re all world changers here today, I haven’t always believed that my life mattered. When I started high-school, I was in a bad place. I felt like I had no purpose. I didn’t really care about how I lived my life. I was doing drugs nearly every day and doing terrible in school. My relationships with family and old friends were falling apart and the only friends I did have were the ones I was smoking and drinking with. I was in a lot of pain and I obviously didn’t have very good ways of coping with it. After I was doing this for a while, I felt trapped in by my bad decisions, and I didn’t believe that I had the tools to turn that around. I didn’t think that I could change my own life, much less change the world. But while I was in such a bad place, people around me didn’t give up on me. They loved me at my worst and helped me to come out of the swamp I lived in. People around me taught me how to do better things with my life and live fully alive. They didn’t cast me out but came to me with arms open, ready to help me. It was a long process, but they radically changed my life. Now I’m here, a few years later, and I’m a completely different person because of the people who have chosen to care for me. I wouldn’t be standing here, where I am today, without all the people who have helped me: my parents, friends, teachers, mentors, pastors, and Jesus. I wouldn’t be standing here graduating high school with plans to go to college and build a stable life without the people who have gone before me. I stand here today knowing that my life does matter, the decisions I make are important, and I truly do have a purpose. And I am where I am today because people have decided to put their hand out to help me.
And I’m not the only one that’s been helped. We’re here graduating together, and we’ve all received help from others. We haven’t done this alone. I’m sure we can all think of people who have aided us while we were struggling being a teenager, trying to graduate, and plan for our futures. The people that have helped you along may be very different than the people who have helped your neighbor… but we stand here today because of the people who have decided to love us, and they have changed our lives.
As we think about these people, what makes them different? Do they have billions of dollars or have a genius IQ level? No. These people who have helped you to get here have been ordinary people, just like you and I. Yet because they chose to love you, they had an impact in your life. They changed your world.
If these ordinary people changed your life, what makes you think that you can’t go and change other people’s lives? If these people have changed our lives by the love they have shown us, why can’t we go and do the same for others? That’s what changing the world looks like. So what makes you think that you can’t change the world, one person at a time?
As I’ve looked around the halls of Cascade High School, I’ve seen beautiful people with beautiful gifts, who are destined to make an impact. Every single one of you has the ability to change this world in your hands.
Truth is, actually, whether you like it or not, you are going to change this world in some way or another simply because you exist. The question is not will you change the world, but the question is how will you change it. You are a great boat that will leave a wake behind you wherever you go in life. What do you want that to be? Love is the best thing we could ever leave behind in our lives, and hasn’t it been what’s changed ours? Love changes the world, and everybody in this room can love somebody. Let’s leave a legacy of love behind us, wherever we go with our futures. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”
Class of 2017, happy graduation, let’s go do this thing called life, and let’s go change the world.