01 June 2013

A Note to My Classmates on the Occasion of Our Thirtieth High School Class Reunion

In the 30 years since graduation, we have seen the Berlin Wall come down,  the dawn of a new millennium, and our first non-white President (regardless of where you come down politically, this is an event once thought unimaginable), a technology explosion which is allowing me to sit in my living room on my iPad in my pj’s and communicate with classmates across the world. You would have all said I was crazy back then had I tried to explain Twitter or Facebook or Skype or YouTube… who could have pointed to Silicon Valley on a map… who wouldn't have been giddy at the idea of listening to any song ever recorded for free on ear-buds plugged into your phone that sounds just as good as the stereo in Michael Gann’s mustang?

We have a robot roving Mars sending back pictures and drones in the fields fighting our battles. We've seen fascists and dictators and empires rise…. and fascists and dictators and empires fall (repeat again)… and desert storms and Arab Springs and a meltdown in Chernobyl and New Orleans under water and our beloved Gulf of Mexico sullied with BP oil. A disease called AIDS we had never even heard of in 1983 has since claimed the lives of 30 million people.

We've seen our share of triumphs and tragedies…we all remember where we were when the space shuttle exploded and when the twin towers came tumbling down. Nelson Mandela was released from prison; OJ Simpson may spend the rest of his life there.  We've seen unprecedented wealth.  And unprecedented poverty. The stock market soared, the housing bubble burst. Many of us have brought children into the world. Many of us have said goodbye to our parents. Who knew back then: Madonna would still be relevant and the USSR wouldn't?

Take any three-decade chunk of time in world history and you’ll find good and bad, progress and setbacks, heroes and villains, optimists and naysayers…just like this time has seen. I would like to think that we've become a little more understanding, tolerant, compassionate, aware, sympathetic society and that the ties that bind us will trump the differences that seem to be tearing us apart (although sometimes I wonder).

My dad remembers a time when there were only a handful of cars in Marion County. He remembers seeing a black person for the first time. He remembers drawing water from a well and the first house he lived in that had electricity and remembers picking cotton from sunrise to sunset. Yet, he predicted our generation would experience even more change than his. He was right. Change is exponential. It’s happening at warp speed. And inevitable. Embrace it. Adaptability is the key to growing old gracefully.

ANYTHING is possible!

Stephen Raburn
HHS Class of 83