Among us graduating seniors, a great divide is opening — one unlike any we have faced before. This division does not conform to one of the irreconcilable binaries that typically separate people in our nation. It’s not between men and women, Republicans and Democrats, whites and blacks, the haves and have-nots, those who believe in small government and those who — according to the Tea Party — hate America, or even Team Edward and Team Jacob.

More concerning, it is not a difference we can easily hide. It’s noticeable during conversations at bars, parties, saloons, watering holes, American Cafes and other places where young people — lacking in work ethic and recently empowered to legally consume alcohol — gather. It’s etched into our eyes when abstract topics like “the future” are mentioned. It’s woven into the tone of our voices when we talk to our parents.

It is, of course, the division between those who know what they’re doing after May 1, 2010 and those who do not. And it’s quickly becoming a difference that may split the student body in half.

I’m here to plead for an end to the madness. We can’t continue living like this — those with well-laid plans smugly implying that they are mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually superior because they have jobs or graduate school plans while those without directions tell them to “eat shit” under their breath.

As important, we can’t continue drinking this much alcohol, whether it’s out of jubilation for our future or because we want to wallow in our misfortune. We almost certainly risk severely damaging our livers, if not the brain cells that got us through this place.

Instead, we must realize that, come May 1, 2010, we all share one very special trait: privilege.

Statistically speaking, as college graduates, we are now entering a new American social class. We’ll be much more likely than our high school graduate friends to have full-time, year-round employment, earn thousands of dollars more in annual income, own homes and marry wealthier spouses. We’ll be much less likely to spend time in a prison or be a victim of violent crime. In other words, it’s much more likely that — across many metrics — we will lead comfortable lives. At the very least, we won’t have to worry so much about some of the basics like food and shelter.

That future probably attracted many of us to the University of Michigan. Sure, we came for the high-minded intellectual journey. Or maybe we just came for a chance to leave the nest. But that after-college horizon loomed in the distance the whole time — and it looked pretty attractive.

But here’s where the danger lies. A fine line exists between desiring that future and believing it’s owed to us. From there, it’s a hop skip and a jump the to the belief that others don’t deserve this future because they didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars and a handful of sleepless nights studying like we did. Or, alternatively, that those people who didn’t take the same road we did should have.

The best of us sometimes become trapped in this elitist view — even the do-gooders who spend their free time volunteering in crumbling cities and donating their extra money to charity. When we begin to think we have a right to a bright future, we forget what’s truly important. We forget that while a desk job pushing paper may pay more than a job growing food, making clothing or building houses, it may not be as vital to our existence or happiness as a society.

As the supposed incoming class of privileged elites, I hope the one thing that ends up uniting our future is an awareness that we’re really no better than anyone else, degree or not.

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