Throughout our lives, we’ve witnessed firsthand the battle between good and evil. We’ve seen deception, corruption, and war, and we’ve seen those who we hold in the highest regard exposed for terrible acts that were committed. In our own county government, we’ve seen corruption on an unprecedented scale; and this is presenting a big problem to youth in our surrounding communities. It seems that we’ve lost our sense of trust in honesty and community. But we all have the power to combat these injustices by restoring honesty in our own lives and spreading the prestige of integrity into our communities. By taking an honest look at ourselves, we can find our own purpose in life, and make our way towards living on principle and leading fulfilling lives of our own. The principle I think we should be shooting for is called integrity, and, despite popular belief, it does still exist today; if you know where to find it and how to cultivate it . When asked what young people should do with their lives today, American author Kurt Vonnegut said, “Many things. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured”. Through the foundations of integrity, we can build communities where honesty and trust can spread feelings of belonging to each member. As human beings, we all want to belong. We want our lives to be purposeful, fulfilling, and complete. But the attainment of these feelings of wholeness has, historically, never been easy. Many people feel as if they don’t belong, and this can lead to many unwanted feelings, including loneliness. But the first step to overcoming loneliness is by being true to yourself. Only you are capable of knowing who you really are, and by first accepting and then embracing your true self, you can begin to make a real impact on the world around you. In an early 20th Century seminar, Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology told his audience, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens”. So in being honest with yourself, you discover your purpose. You’ve positioned yourself on the path of living a wholesome life, the way you want to live it. You have your goals, and everything you do becomes an effort to reach those goals. But this is where another value of integrity comes into play; and that is awareness. The formation of a stable community doesn’t happen by just saving yourself. And, most unfortunately, in today’s world, that’s where most people stop. But there’s something much bigger going on around you. Every time you encounter another human being, you have the opportunity to make an impact. If you see a neighbor struggling with something, and you’re capable of helping him, offer to help him. And genuinely mean it. Convince the people around you that you’re genuine by the fire in your eyes, the passion in your voice, and, most importantly, the smile on your face. Gandhi told us, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem” (Neal). So let’s close that gap, and recognize that we all have something to contribute. In just a short amount of time, I can guarantee that you’ll see your openness and positivity come back to you tenfold. Reach out to people and get to know their names, stories, thoughts, and opinions. Generosity begat respect, and respect begat trust. Just listen to them, and most of the time; they’ll give you the same amount of attention back. In her piece, “Love Is the Measure”, Dorothy Day says, “We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world.” By sticking to your own values of integrity, and reaching out to neighbors, classmates, and everyone you meet, you can dramatically improve the world around you. So we’ll start today. As soon as you walk out of this classroom, be aware of the community around you. Go outside of your comfort zone, meet new people, ask all the questions, and find out how you can contribute to the outside world. By being true to yourself, and doing what you can for others, you can take control of your future. You can take control of the future. Isn’t that what our generation should be preparing for? The direction that our world is headed in is right in our hands, so make today the day you take charge. Do not ever think that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or beautiful enough to do something extraordinary. All you need to do is listen, learn, speak, and then act; to make our community a place where you’ll want to raise your children, and to give them a solid foundation on which to raise their own.