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{Published in the Colorado Springs Gazette as “Looking back one last time at love, hope and transitions” on June 14th, 2012}

Three times on these pages I’ve dropped off a child at college or seen one graduate. Today’s column will be the last.

Three years and nine months ago, I wrote about walking with other freshman parents up to Hull Gate, and telling my daughter goodbye. Last weekend, she and I walked that route one last time.

No police for crowd control, just take down crews putting away chairs. No hordes of teary parents, besides me. No band of bagpipers leading the parade, just my baby girl by my side. Where exactly did this young woman come from?

Some of you may know my life is very different since I wrote that column. I am older now, far more than four years. Older, but not much wiser. So much has happened that I do not understand.

Since that time, the budget deficit has tripled, from $460 billion dollars to 1.3 trillion. Public debt has soared, from 5.8 trillion to 15.7 trillion. During the past four years, unemployment for young college graduates has gone up by half, from 6 percent to over 9 percent.

The underemployment rate (as defined by the Economic Policy Institute) is even higher, from about 10 percent to almost 20 percent. EPI also reports that the diminished effect on the earning power of the class of 2012, because they graduated during a recession, is likely to last for 10-15 years. I had wanted so much better for them.

All this and other grim economic news didn’t just happen. A crippled economy and all that goes with it is the direct and predictable result of direct and predictable policies pursued by direct and predictable politicians elected by direct and predictable voters. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Everybody is entitled to everything at everyone else’s expense. After they’re gone, it’s someone else’s problem. No one thinks about the future, except perhaps those who stand to inherit it. It is so terribly unfair. Not just to my daughter, but to children everywhere. It is no one’s fault, and it is everyone’s. Shame on us all.

I think these things as my daughter and I retrace our steps from four years ago. But such dark thoughts aren’t what you should leave your child with as you send him or her out into the world. And I’m not sure I completely believe them.

After all, when it comes to politics, nothing is set in stone. Political winds can shift, particularly in times of crisis. Old alliances can dissolve, new ones can emerge. Hard times can get people to rethink their assumptions. Most importantly, the generation that currently wields power must eventually pass from the scene. As far as I’m concerned, that can’t happen too soon.

Thankfully, other things remain true. Parents will always love their children. They will continue to sacrifice for them, and they will always hope for a better world. For me, I hope that reason will triumph. I will always work for, and hope in, the triumph of reason. I can do little else.

That’s the message I want my daughter to hear as she begins her journey away from me and into adulthood. Not gloom and doom, but love and hope. I want her to know how much I love her, and how much hope I have for her in the new life that awaits. It’s what every parent feels on graduation day, on every campus in every country around the world.

Judaism teaches the duty of “Tikkun Olam”, the Repair of the World. An extraordinarily tough task that no single person can finish, but neither are they free to leave it alone. Whenever I think of children and the legacy we are leaving them, I am reminded of just how broken the world is. It will take very powerful tools to fix it.

But love and hope are powerful things. Perhaps, just perhaps, they may be enough.

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