Noblesse Oblige

I was honored to be invited as the guest speaker at the Traverse City West High School National Honor Society induction ceremony.

The motto of their society is "Noblesse Oblige" -- the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.

I was invited by a friend who is familiar with my story and Milk Crate Basketball.

Writing the speech, practicing the speech and delivering the speech was an enjoyable process and experience.  It was a great way to step back and to share the story from a different angle to make it relevant to the audience.

I wasn't too familiar with the NHS before researching and preparing my speech.  As I said to the inductees...during my 3 highs schools in 4 years, if anyone would have introduced to me the 4 pillars of the NHS - Scholarship, Character, Leadership, Service - or the concept "Noblesse Oblige" I would have only wondered how it had anything to do with me just getting thru the day and the school year.  I was in constant survival mode – trying to fit in, hoping not to sit alone at lunch.

It was comforting and refreshing to see first-hand how this motto was being instilled in today's youth and how they are expected to embrace it within their school and community.

In this instant-gratification, self-indulged social media, carefully-cultivated Instagram post world we live in...it's more important than ever to encourage the next generation to do something that matters -- no matter how big or small.

"The inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged."  

I'm not a big fan of that word "privileged".  It conjures up feelings of resentment, anger and envy in me.  I've had way too many conversations with a therapist about those issues!

To me, "privileged" is any of us who have our basic needs met.  Face it, that's all we really need. And if you have that, you are "privileged", which means you have an inferred responsibility to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.

Milk Crate Basketball and Noblesse Oblige.

That's not a motto I would have ever considered living by.  It took me a long time to get there. But, I got there.  And it's a good place to be.

I even squeezed in a Dr. Seuss quote that seemed relevant - “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not”. 

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