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home : opinion : opinion April 29, 2016

5/29/2014 10:43:00 AM
Wind beneath your wings
William Slusher

It's that time again for accomplished commencement speakers to wax eloquent from podiums all over America, but, from the trenches, I humbly offer you graduates this collection of the wisest things I've learned since I was your age, half a century ago.
For perspective of viewpoint, I'm college educated, was a (once wounded) combat soldier, cop, police/medevac pilot, and (sometimes single) father of five. I'm one for three at the altar, been shot once, hospitalized four times, but I'm still a happy, lucky man. I've published several novels, but I claim no omniscience, young Americans. I just hope to speed you on a safer, happier way to your own success.
First, question ... everything ... always ... including what I tell you. Increasingly, our politically incestuous universities are telling you young men and women what you ...must ... think, not teaching you how to think for yourselves. There is immense risk in this for you, America and freedom.
There are always at least two sides to every story and the truth is ... never ... any of them, but is always something shifting about in between that you must ascertain for yourself. Beware they who insist they know the truth.
The most valuable of human riches is respect. Respect cannot be demanded, taken or even given. Respect can only be ... earned. Take care to earn respect and preserve it, for life without it is not good, and retrieving it once lost is a long hard road.
Never ... ever ... tell anyone to do anything you cannot legally and physically force them to do, for if they defy you, you lose their respect. Coincidentally, there is very little you can legally and physically force anyone to do. This is especially true in love relationships. So learn the art of reason. Fight the problems, not each other.
If you can take back your love, then whatever you feel isn't love. Love is an irrevocable gift, not a barter. If she doesn't love you, or she does you wrong, wish her well and mean it. Then turn around and walk, and don't look back.
Sex and love are not the same thing. Think with your brain, love with your heart, do sex with the rest of your body, and don't ever get those assigned functions mixed up.
Love does not conquer all. Without compatibility, romantic love dies. Compatibility is ... not ... about how much you are alike. Compatibility is your capacity to be content with each other's enduring ... differentness.
Hell is Disney World compared to a bad marriage. Don't marry until you're closer to 30. You will have established your living, you'll be better spouse and parent material, and you will have known enough lovers well enough to better tell a good one from one who will kill you from the inside out.
A condom can save you 18 years of indentured servitude and a whole lot more ... if you use it.
Fight only for life, land, liberty and loved ones. Negotiate if possible, compromise where feasible, forgive where you can find it in your heart, and you may well and wisely never fight. But if you must fight, be utterly ruthless and rule out nothing but losing, especially in wars, for this is the fastest return to the longest lasting peace.
Beware they who tell you there are race, gender, class or other barriers to your success, especially if they tell you that you must elect them to break down those barriers for you.
If you don't vote you fail yourself and your people, and you forfeit all legitimate right to complain about government. Shun political bigotry ... first in yourself.
Know the thin difference between reasons and excuses, for in the latter lies ruin.
Money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy freedom, and freedom is essential to happiness.
Respect they who love their god. Beware they who declare that you must love it too.
If you guys ever get to thinking you're hot stuff with cars, motorcycles, horses, tractors, aircraft, guns or women, you better step back and reconsider, pronto, for you are about to get hurt badly by one of them.
If you don't eat, you can't feed.
Study investing, and start ... now. Much worse than being young and poor, is being ... old ... and poor.
We all cry in our time, but there is a critical difference between suffering and whining.
Be one who changes the trends, not one who is changed by them.
To waste time is to invite death to draw nearer.
Last and perhaps most importantly, remember ... always ... who runs your life.
Now ... run it.
Congratulations, seniors! Here's for wind beneath your wings.
William Slusher is an author, columnist and sociopolitical writer with a small ranch on the Okanogan River. Enjoy his newly reprinted down-and-dirty Southern murder mystery Shepherd of the Wolves. (Amazon,, or your local bookstore). Mr. Slusher may be contacted at

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