Dr. Runnels, Dr. Byrd, Dr. Davis, Distinguished Faculty,
Students, and My Fellow Texans

What A Wonderful Life!

St. Phillips College Graduation Address, Dec. 2001

  1. The Story (1946 Frank Capra film)
    1. There are actually two stories
      1. This classic began as a box office flop at the time of its release. It only became popular after repeated television showings at Christmas time in the 1960's
      2. So, given enough time and exposure, anything great can happen!

      3. This is a story of a savings-and-loan do-gooder George Bailey (James Stewart) who had it all. Yet he suffered many hardships, losses and threat of ruin, even the thought of suicide. He is given encouragement by a whimsical, endearing, trainee-angel, "Angel, Second Class", Clarence Oddbody, a sweet but inept, child-like apprentice angel who hasn't yet earned his wings. The scene is one in the night, sky up in the heavens. Two bright angelic stars summon Clarence to go to Bedford Falls where George Bailey has become so despondent that he is about to commit his final act to end his life. Just in time, Clarence the Angel jumps in the water under the bridge from which George Bailey is about to leap and causes George Bailey to jump in and save him. After being rescued, Clarence takes George around the town of Bedford Falls in its configuration as Pottersville, named after one of the most ruthless businessmen in town. It is shown in a state as though George Bailey had never lived. It is a frightening, nightmarish view of a very dismal town.

        Clarence wisely shows George how much his life has mattered, and he begins to understand the differences his absence made in others and himself. "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" Shortly thereafter, George begs to return to Bedford Falls and is returned to normal with an entirely renewed appreciation for and perspective on his life.

        The lesson learned here is to keep faith in yourself. Have hope for your future. You mean a lot to this world and are an invaluable part of it!
    2. This Person's View of a Wonderful Life: Start With the Basics!
      1. Develop Your Winning Attitude
      2. Do what makes your heart sing!
      3. Develop Interpersonal Skills (Personality Plus)
        1. We are so deeply relational.
      4. Be Patient
      5. Be a Lifelong Reader and Learner
    3. Leave a Legacy – Improve the World into Which You Were Born
    4. (Webster's says legacy is "something handed down from one who has gone before or from the past")

      Someone recently asked me: "Do you think our generation will live up to the challenges of our times?" Of course. And, there is so much out there awaiting you! You be the ultimate judge of what fires your soul. But for starters…

      1. Think Sustainability of our Environment!
      2. Think for the next 100 years and more!
      3. Help solve the problems that seem to be eluding the baby boomers:
        1. Traffic congestion
        2. Dirty air
        3. Energy Independence for America!
          1. St. Philip's is a Poised to Be A Leader in Fuel Cell Technology!
          2. Take oil for example. The US pays for its oil in part with grain exports. In 1950, a bushel of wheat could be exchanged for roughly a barrel of oil. However with rising oil priced from 1973, the wheat to oil ratio had climbed to a ratio of 8 to 1. This steep rise in the purchasing power of oil led to one of the greatest international transfers of wealth ever recorded! Is this what we are willing to live with?
          3. With the dwindling pumping capacity of the U.S., it is high time we seriously look at alternatives to the fossil fuel. The same technological revolution that created the Internet and so many other wonders can be used to efficiently harness the world's vast supplies of wind, biomass and other forms of solar energy 6,000 times as abundant on an annual basis as the fuels we now use.
          4. A nationwide wind resources survey by the US Department of Energy indicates that three states---North Dakota, Kansas and Texas have enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs.
        4. Building and supporting landfills into eternity and burying our resources as waste!

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