The Easy "A"
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
December 17, 2011
Elder Holland, Elder Johnson, President Wheelwright, faculty, family, friends, and especially the graduating class of 2011, aloha!
To the graduates, allow me to be one of the many who will extend their commendations to you this day on a job well done. Cherish this day. It is yours and you have earned it.
Allow these feelings of jubilation to enthrall you but to stay with you for only a moment because now, the real work begins. The world awaits your brilliance, your unique insight and perspective. In the words of our famous Brother Jim Ritchie, it awaits "your mark."
To paraphrase the thoughts of author Thomas Friedman on how fast our world is changing, it was only a few years ago that Facebook wasn't a verb, Twitter was just a sound, the cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking space, applications were what you sent to college, and for most people "Skype" was a typo. We now live in a highly interconnected world. In utilizing this interconnectedness, I "Facebooked", for lack of a better verb, a few friends asking them to describe their experiences at BYU-Hawaii with a single word.
Some of the responses were as follows: amazing, unpredictable, irreplaceable, epic (of course with reference to the surfing - I mean, schoolwork), and for a scrabble score of 500, Alexithymia. I needed a dictionary for that one. However you describe your experiences, allow room for "memorable". This has been an experience you will never forget.
For your future endeavors, consider the following: There is an unwritten list which we, as students, compile during our time here in college. During our freshman and sophomore years, we are usually the ones procuring the list, and later in our junior and senior years, we become the ones providing the names for this list.
While there is no immediate malicious intent implied by this list, its soothing aftertaste of complacency is detrimental.
It is called the "Easy A" list. It is not published or distributed in print, but it exists electronically, orally among friends. It is a list of names of professors or classes, who for various reasons provide what students call "Easy A's." The list is generally procured through a conversation as follows:
Sophomore in speaking to a Junior: "Hey, have you taken Accounting 301?"
"Yeah, I took it in the fall."
"Who did you take it from?
Was it easy?
Do they give out A's?"
Maximum reward for minimum effort
I won't say how many of mine were easy; they haven't given me my diploma yet.
I encourage you all to go out from this place, not looking for the Easy A, not hoping to harvest an acre when you have only sowed a few seeds. I hope that you will seek the challenges of life that will try you and test you. Until you have broken down in prayer and while wrestling with the Lord in supplication will you find the answers to your questions of Why me? Why now? Why Lord?
As the words of King Solomon have been chronicled, saying:
"Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause" (2 Chronicles 6:35).
A good friend and professor shared this prayer of Sir Francis Drake:
Disturb us, Lord when We are too well pleased with ourselves, When our dreams have come true Because we have dreamed too little When we have arrived safely Because we sailed too close to shore
Disturb us, Lord when With the abundance of things we possess We have lost our thirst For the waters of life; Having fallen in love with life, We have ceased to dream of eternity And in the efforts to build a new earth, We have allowed our vision Of the new Heaven to dim
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seas Where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land, We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back The horizon of our hope And to push into the future In strength, courage, hope and love.
In closing I pray that you all find great success in this life. I know that through your diligence and reliance on our Heavenly Father, you will achieve all that you set out to achieve. I'm not saying it will be easy but that it will be worth it.
Having requested the permission of Elder Holland to add a few lines to one of his famous quotes, I would like to leave you with his inspirational words as you work towards your goals:
"Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, [not looking for the easy road or the Easy A,] they come" ("An High Priest of Good Things to Come," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1999).
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.