Marina Keegan graduated from Yale University on May 23. She died three days later in a car accident. An accomplished journalist and playwright, she was 22 years old.
The Yale Daily News asked Marina to write an essay to be distributed at her commencement. That essay is going viral today. She noted that most in her class are “somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it.” But their lack of clarity is not a problem: “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.”
Tragically, time ran out for Marina five days ago. Tomorrow is promised to no one. But that’s not my point this morning. I believe that Marina’s eloquent essay speaks for millions in our culture who cannot find direction for their lives. Many have stopped looking.
A new book describes “the rise of the supertemp”–“independent professionals” who work a variety of short-term jobs rather than choosing permanent careers. Even corporate managers are making the shift. This is the “era of the disposable worker”; a recent survey indicated that 58 percent of American businesses plan to use such “temporary arrangements.” And technology is changing the workplace faster than ever before–anyone who started college in 2003 didn’t have Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.
But I think there’s more going on here. Marina Keegan described a worldview decades in the making: truth is personal, ethics are subjective, and the world is whatever you believe it to be. For many, work has little intrinsic value–it’s a means to the end of your personal happiness. How does God look at this relativistic approach to life?
The psalmist knew how to live a life the Lord can bless: “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:1-2). Why? Because “they do nothing wrong; they walk in all his ways” (v. 3). When we live by biblical truth, we align ourselves with God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). When we don’t, we don’t.
John Adams observed that “facts are stubborn things.” Winston Churchill added: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Marina Keegan’s thoughtful essay gave voice to all who are searching for such incontrovertible truth. For them, and for myself, I pray with the psalmist: “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders” (Psalm 119:27).
When last did you make his prayer yours?