To the Class Of 2024


The first big milestone in your life has arrived. You are about to leave the world of adolescence and enter the world of adulthood.

You have lived in an environment that is unlike any other, especially in the area of technology. The simple smart phone alone has more computer power in that little device than either the vehicle that landed men on the moon in 1969 or in the first Space Shuttle. By the end of this year, you will have spent two months of your life looking at your phone.

You are about to take your place in a nation that has not been so polarized since the 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War divided a nation. And those days were the worst divisions in America since the Civil War.

Those of us who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s thought the older generation had left us a mess but, we believed, we would do better. But we did not. I hope your generation does better than ours.

But with all that, America is a land of wonderful opportunity. And we have made great strides in many areas since those days when I was a new graduate.

Medical advancements have saved millions of lives that would have otherwise been lost. We have left behind the racial bigotry of past generations and have elected a Black president and a Black vice-president, with a multitude of others in places of authority and influence. Technology has grown almost faster than our ability to keep up.

But it is not a perfect world or a perfect nation into which you are stepping. But you do have a part to play. You can reject the notion that America is extraordinary and thus become cynical, critical, and bitter over the problems you see. Or you can see the future as a blank slate and work to fill that slate with your own positive contributions.

Your personal future is up to you. It is not “fate,” “circumstances,” or “the universe,” whatever that means, that will determine who you are and who and what you will be. In scores of nations in the world, your future would be grim. In this nation, your future is largely in your own hands. What you will do with it begins now.

I am, and always have been, a person of faith. For those who are believers in the God of the Bible, there is this verse about the future: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

Because of this, I believe that life has meaning and that there is another who is greater, who is willing to direct our path and who gives leadership and guidance. If you are a believer in Christ, I urge you to remain so, whatever secular professors and so-called “influencers” may throw at you.

Do not put your trust in men, especially political men and women. They are among those who have created and continue to perpetuate the mess that you are inheriting. Surround yourself with positive people who are optimists about the days ahead. Determine that you are going to make a difference in the world in which you live, however large or small that world may be.

One more thing. The only legacy that you will leave behind when it comes to your time to depart will be your family and the influence, for good or ill, you have had on others. Be that person who makes a difference. Be that person who makes the world a better place.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King ( Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South ( He may be contacted at He has been a weekly opinion columnist for the The Citizen for over 27 years.]