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Hummel column: Tips to grads earns 'incomplete' grade

A couple of weeks ago this column offered high school graduates of the class of 2008 a list of top 10 tips for the next five years. Comments have come back, but not from the graduates -- from moms and pops. And they've graded the essay -- INCOMPLETE.

One reader I respect very much commented that I had overlooked two very important tips:

1. Take time to get to know your Creator. Some day you will meet Him face to face.

2. Choose your mate carefully, as it is very hard on your financial portfolio when you divide your assets in half and give them away every so often.

Whether we believe that the universe was literally created in seven days as told in the Book of Genesis (and that would be not many thousand year ago), or we believe in the "Big Bang" theory that our universe sprang into existence around 13.7 billion years ago, studies in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe did have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing. During and after that moment there was something: our universe.

But science stops there and offers no explanation. Albert Einstein, the most famous physicist of the last century, and maybe of all time, was not a man of organized religion. Yet he was in awe of the universe and its natural laws (life, gravity, the speed of light, the energy in a single atom, etc). He said studying the universe was like going into a huge library and observing all those learned books. You knew they didn't just come into being -- somebody had to write them. And so it is with the universe -- some power had to create it.

That's where faith takes over. Those of us who believe that a universe (including mountains, oceans, plains, birds that eat fruit and drop seeds, bees that carry pollen from plant to plant, fish, trees that absorb carbon dioxide and exude oxygen and animals that breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, all in a harmonious continuing life cycle) could not just happen -- it had to be created. So we believe in a creator. Whether we call Him God, Jehovah or some other name, we believe He made us, knows us and loves us and yes graduates, we ought to get to know Him because some day we're going to meet Him face to face. Unfortunately, a few graduates will meet him in the next five years.

And yes, graduates, choose your mate wisely. There are many more reasons than just the pain of splitting the pot when mates split. Families are part of the glue that holds our communities and our nation together. A family is a building block, part of the foundation of our culture. When a family comes apart, the pain ripples through the splitting mates, the children, if any, relatives, friends, the entire community. Those of us who have been spared the pain are certainly not experts -- partly we have just been lucky. My advice: if you find somebody stable who shares your values and you love him or her, you have probably found a good mate. But don't plan on improving a prospect. As one hometown philosopher put it: "You can't make a filet mignon out of a hamburger." There are no guarantees that you'll find a good mate -- or that you'll be one. Work at it. Don't sweat the small stuff, and good luck.

There graduates, now you have an even dozen. That's 12 more than you asked for. Read them late at night, and like many of these columns, they'll help you fall asleep.