Three Lessons I Learned On The Police Beat: For My High School
I grew up in a college town in Mid-Missouri. Recently, I had the honor of being inducted into my high school hall of fame, which was a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t be there to accept the award so I made a video address instead. I wanted to share with the students the things in life I wish I’d learned when I was younger. If you can’t sit through the whole six minutes–which I figure is the attention span of the average high school student, I’ll summarize the speech in a few sentences. Also, you can tell from this video, that I’m not the greatest speaker in the world. So feel free to skip it.
継続は力 (Keizoku wa Chikara). Persistence is power. Sometimes, the only difference between excelling at something and not excelling at it isn’t natural ability, it’s persistence.
It’s better to admit you don’t know and ask and be embarrassed for a moment than to fake understanding something and never know it. We learn and grow wiser by admitting we don’t know something and asking questions.
It’s important to be a good friend. It makes life richer for yourself and your friends. Sometimes, it’s not easy to know what is a good friend and what is not. In general, a good friend is someone who is the same in adversity and good times, who shares your joys, who keeps your secrets, who offers help when you need it, who says good things about you behind your back, not bad things, and encourages you to do the right thing. And if you’re a good friend–you reciprocate.
If you want to be a decent journalist and maybe a decent human being, you have to a unilaterally good friends to your sources. They may betray you. That’s not your problem. You can only be a good friend to them. If you betray your friends, you end up betraying yourself, because you won’t be able to trust anyone, not even yourself, if you can’t be true to someone.
Note: My warning to the students at the end of the speech turned out to have the exact opposite effect. I forgot what contrarians high school students tend to be.
From the local paper: “Inductee Jake Adelstein, class of 1987, lives in Tokyo but provided an acceptance speech video. Adelstein was the first American citizen to work as a Japanese language reporter and covered crime in Japan that he documented in a 2009 book, “Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.” His father, Eddie Adelstein, an MU professor, accepted the award on his behalf. In his video, Jake Adelstein urged students to be persistent and to not be afraid to ask questions. He also told them to wait until they’re at least 18 before reading his book because there’s too much sex and violence — advice that generated buzz among teenagers, some of whom joked that they want to read it now.”