Wise words

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dr. Douglas Naismith imparted sage advice on the graduating seniors at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy on Saturday, words we wish could have been heard by every Suffolk graduate.

In his final graduation address-Naismith is retiring this month after 16 years at the helm of NSA-Naismith cautioned grads to be wary of people and

ideologies that claim to have &uot;all the answers.&uot; He urged the young people to seek moderation, avoid the extremes and don’t be certain that they are always right.

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What Naismith was warning against is perhaps the greatest threat today to the American way of life, on a par with terrorism and the outsourcing of every good job to third world countries.

Too often today political, religious and other ideologies are certain that they are right, that everyone else is wrong, that they have all the answers. They take complex issues that may have dozens of nuances or shades of gray and make them black and white, right or wrong, for us or against us.

It would be a wonderful world if everything were so simple, but it’s not. There are no easy solutions to the challenges facing America and the world. We are in an ever-changing world with a playing field that is leveling. Nobody knows what the future holds and any who claim that their way will work is a charlatan.

The danger in the certitude that is espoused so often today in our media, politics and religion is that we are closing ourselves off, shutting out ideas that could be helpful. It’s a slippery slope down which we are headed, one that is sure to lead to intolerance and persecution of those who espouse different ideas. When that happens, we will be no better than those who seek to do us harm.

America’s greatness is in our freedom to think and believe, or not believe, as we see fit without fear of retribution. That is the principle on which we were founded. It’s up to the young people to see to it that it is preserved.

Those who graduated Saturday have the entire world before them. It is they who will define the future and determine what America will become. We hope they heed Naismith’s advice.