MyOOPS開放式課程
請加入會員以使用更多個人化功能
來自全球頂尖大學的開放式課程,現在由世界各國的數千名義工志工為您翻譯成中文。請免費享用!
課程來源:Harvard
     

 

美國總統歐巴馬為2012年巴納德學院畢業生演講

Barnard College Commencement 2012 Keynote Address by Barack Obama, President of the United

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Barack Obama

2012年5月14日演講

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恆

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後製:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講(來源Barnard College

歐巴馬總統於2012年5月14日星期一在巴納德學院第120屆畢業典禮上發表演講。他也獲頒巴納德學院最高榮譽「巴納德卓越成就獎章」,獲頒此獎章的還有國際關懷組織主席兼執行長Helene D. Gayle;「Freedom to Marry」(婚姻自由)組織(同性戀者權益團體)創辦者兼主席Evan Wolfson;巴納德學院化學教授Sally Chapman。

 

關於Barack Obama(來源Bio.com

歐巴馬(Barack Obama)是美國第44任及現任總統,於1961年8月4日出生於夏威夷檀香山。他從政之前是一名人權律師,先擔任伊利諾州參議員,後來成為美國第一位非裔總統。歐巴馬總統持續進行政策改革,以因應健保問題和經濟危機。

 

美國總統歐巴馬為2012年巴納德學院畢業生演講

 

謝謝。(歡呼聲)謝謝Spar校長、校董會委員、Bollinger院長。

 

2012年畢業生,大家好!

 

(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

恭喜妳們等到這一天,感謝妳們讓我有榮幸參與這個典禮。很多人為妳們感到驕傲-妳們的父母、家人、師長、朋友、所有為妳們今天的成就貢獻心力的人-所以,請給予他們最熱烈的掌聲。

 

(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

對今天在座的所有母親來說,沒什麼比見到孩子畢業更好的母親節禮物了。但我必須告訴大家,每當我參加這類活動時,就會開始想像Malia和Sasha(歐巴馬女兒)畢業的情景,開始熱淚盈眶。(笑聲)太糗了。我不知道你們是怎麼保持鎮定的。(笑聲)

 

我要先說明一個難以啟齒的事實:我是哥倫比亞學院畢業生。(笑聲)(掌聲)我知道-(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我知道這可能有一點手足較勁的意味。(笑聲)但我還是很榮幸能在妳們的畢業典禮上演講。但我得說,妳們過去三年把標準訂得相當高。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)希拉蕊.克林頓、梅莉.史翠普、Sheryl Sandberg(Facebook營運總監),在她們之後出場的壓力很大。(掌聲)但我要指出,希拉蕊的工作相當出色,她是美國有史以來最傑出的國務卿之一;我們授予梅莉藝術與人文總統獎章;Sheryl不僅是一位好友,也是我們的經濟顧問之一。所以,正如那句諺語所說-親近朋友,但更要親近跟你一樣受邀到巴納德學院畢業典禮演講的人。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)這句話蘊藏著極深的智慧。(笑聲)

 

好,我畢業那年,這地方看起來蠻眼熟的-(笑聲)我畢業於1983年,是哥倫比亞學院開始招收女生的第一年。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)Sally Ride是美國第一位女太空人;當時的音樂幾乎都跟麥可.傑克森和太空漫步有關。(歡呼聲)

 

聽眾:秀一下!(笑聲)

 

我們用的是隨身聽。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)不。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)不表演太空漫步。(笑聲)(掌聲)今天不表演太空漫步。(笑聲)我們用的是隨身聽,不是iPods;附近街道不像現在這麼吸引人;(笑聲)時代廣場也不是適合全家一起出遊的地方。(笑聲)我知道這都是陳年往事,沒什麼比聽畢業典禮演講者講古更糟的了。(笑聲)但-除了這些差異之外,1983年畢業生確實和妳們有很多共同點。

 

當我們踏入社會時,國家也正值從一次特別嚴重的經濟衰退中復甦。那是一個變動的時期、一個充滿不確定的時期、一個政治辯論情緒高漲的時期。妳們應該能體會這一點,因為就在妳們正開始尋找在這所校園中的定位時,經濟危機的衝擊已導致500多萬人失業,就在妳們新鮮人生活結束之前。從那時起,妳們當中一些人或許看見父母延後了退休計畫,朋友們費盡心力地找工作。當妳們展望未來時,或許也有跟我那一代在妳們這個年齡時同樣的憂慮。當然,身為年輕女性的妳們,也會面臨一些特殊的挑戰,例如是否能享有同工同酬的待遇;是否能在工作和家庭的需求間取得平衡;是否能完全掌控自己的健康決策。

 

雖然過去30年來,女性的機會大幅增長,但身為年輕人的妳們,在許多方面面臨的挑戰比我們更加艱難。經濟衰退情況更嚴重;失業率更高;政治似乎更混沌不明;國會僵立的局面比以往任何時候更嚴重;金融界某些人很難被稱為模範企業公民。(笑聲)難怪-我們對體制的信心降到有史以來最低點,特別是當人們對好消息的關注程度不再像壞消息那麼多時。每天都能聽見一連串聳人聽聞的消息和醜聞,這些內容傳達出的訊息是:改革是不可能的;你無法改變現狀、你無法消除現實和理想生活之間的差距。我的任務就是告訴妳們,別相信這些。因為-儘管眼前的阻礙相當艱難,我相信妳們的毅力更強大。我見過妳們的熱情;我見過妳們的奉獻;我見過妳們的投入;我見過妳們不落人後地挺身而出;我聽過妳們的聲音在創意和數位潮流的傳播下變得更加響亮,這是我們年長的一代很難理解的。我看見躍躍欲試的一代,甚至迫不及待地準備投入歷史洪流、改變歷史進程。這種勇於挑戰、不畏艱難的精神,正是貫穿整個美國歷史的脈絡;正是我們所有進步的源泉;正是此刻我們需要妳們這一代傳承和發揚光大的精神。

 

瞭解嗎?問題並不在於情況是否會好轉;它總是會。問題並不在於我們是否已有面對挑戰的解決之道;我們已掌握它們好一段時間了。我們知道,例如,這個國家會變得更好;如果更多美國人有機會接受妳們在巴納德獲得的教育,如果有更多人能獲得今天僱主所需的技能和訓練。我們知道,我們會擁有更美好的未來;如果我們投資能帶來新商機和醫學突破的科技;如果我們開發更多潔淨能源,就能減少石油進口,並減少威脅地球環境的碳污染。我們知道,我們會擁有更美好的生活;如果能制定規則,防止大銀行拿別人的錢做錯誤投資,制止保險公司在妳最需要的時候降低妳的承保範圍和額度,或對男女採取不同的收費標準。確實,我們知道,我們會擁有更美好的人生;如果女性在國內所有生活領域都能得到公平和平等的對待,無論是薪資所得或本身所做的健康決策。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

我們知道這都是事實,我們知道這些挑戰確實可以解決,問題在於我們是否能在我們的生活中、我們共同的體制中、我們的政治中,凝聚眾人的意志力,實現我們所需的改革。我堅信妳們這一代擁有這種意志力;我相信,這一代女性,也就是在座的每一位,將有助於領導這場改革。現在-(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我知道這是當你在巴納德學院發表畢業演講時,很容易贏得掌聲的一句話。這麼說很容易,但這是事實。這是-以某種程度來說,這是一道簡單的數學題。今天,女性不僅佔全國人口的一半,也貢獻了全國一半的勞動力。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)越來越多女性的收入超過丈夫;全國大學畢業生中,女性人數佔了一半以上,碩士和博士畢業生也是如此。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)所以妳們的人數已經超過我們了。(笑聲)

 

經過幾十年來緩慢、穩定而令人刮目相看的進展之後,妳們現在應該準備好在本世紀達成以下目標:女性不僅能改變自己的命運,也能改變國家和世界的命運。然而,妳們的領導能力能帶領這個國家和世界走多遠,將取決於妳們本身。妳們必須擁有達成這個目標的企圖心;它不會從天而降。身為一位希望擁有那樣的未來,那個更美好的未來,為了妳們,也為了Malia和Sasha;身為一位有幸能成為某些堅強、傑出女性的丈夫、父親和兒子的人,請容我提供幾點建議。這是義不容辭的。(笑聲)請忍耐一下。

 

我的第一個建議是,不要僅滿足於參與,為自己在領導桌上掙得一席之地;最好是-為自己爭取首席的位置。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)有人說,我們民主中最重要的角色就是公民;確實如此。225年前的今天,制憲大會在費城召開,我們的開國元勳及所有公民開始起草一份偉大的文件。是的,它本身有缺陷,這個國家一路以來不斷努力地改善這些缺陷。當時並未解決種族和性別問題;最初的文件沒有女性簽署來讓它錦上添花。但我們可以假設,開國之母在開國之父的耳邊悄悄提供一些更睿智的建議。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我是說-幾乎可以肯定就是這樣。這份文件的特別之處在於,它提供了空間或可能性,讓那些權力沒被納入的人有機會為自己爭取;它提供了人們一種語言,提出拓展民主範圍的原則和理想;它允許人們抗議和發起活動,一代又一代地傳播不斷改變世界的新思想,這是一直推動我們前進至今的力量。開國元勳瞭解,美國並非一成不變;我們不斷前進,不會停滯不前;我們展望未來,不會沉浸過去。現在-新的大門已為妳們開啟,妳們有義務把握這些機會。妳們必須這麼做,不僅是為了自己,也是為了那些尚未擁有妳們所擁有的選擇的人,那些妳將會擁有的選擇。

 

許多職場仍採用過時政策的原因之一是,在《財富》雜誌世界500強企業中,女性執行長只佔3%。我們之所以再次掀起早已進行過的女權運動原因之一是,女性在國會中所佔的席位不到五分之一。我並不是說成功的唯一途徑是晉升到公司最高層職位或競選公職,雖然以事實來說,如果妳們這麼做,國會運作會順利多了。(笑聲、掌聲、歡呼聲)我認為這是無庸置疑的。但如果妳-如果妳決定不坐上領導桌,至少妳得確保有人能為妳的權利發聲;這很重要。在Barbara Mikulski、Olympia Snowe及其他女性進入國會前-只是舉例來說-聯邦資助的大部分疾病研究多半只著重於疾病對男性的影響,直到距今40年前,例如Patsy Mink、Edith Green等女性進入國會,通過《教育法修正案第九條》,我們才宣佈女性應該有資格在美國運動場上參賽及贏得勝利。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)直到一位名叫Lilly Ledbetter的女性在職場挺身而出,且有勇氣站出來說,「你們知道嗎?這是不對的,女性並沒有受到公平待遇,我們缺乏一些必須工具來實現同工同酬的基本原則。」所以,別接受他人對事物既定的看法,妳應該糾正錯誤;妳應該指出不公正;妳應該擔負起監督這個系統的責任,有時將它徹底改變;妳應該挺身而出、大聲疾呼、撰文遊說、遊行示威、組織群眾、參與投票。不要僅滿足於袖手旁觀。那些反對改變的人,那些因不公平現狀而獲益的人,總是將賭注下在憤世嫉俗的群眾或安於現狀的群眾身上,但縱觀美國歷史,他們總是輸的一敗塗地,我相信這次也不例外。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)但最終,2012年畢業生,這將取決於妳們,不要等著身邊的人成為第一個為正義發聲的人。因為也許,只是也許,他們也正等著妳行動。

 

這引出了我第二點建議:千萬別低估以身作則的力量。妳們即將畢業的事實,更別提目前女性大學畢業生人數多於男性,全是因為前幾代女性-妳們的母親、妳們的祖母、妳們的阿姨-打破了妳不能、或不應該身在此處的迷思。我想起一位朋友,她是移民的女兒,她高中時,輔導老師告訴她,「知道嗎?妳不是念大學的料,妳應該考慮當秘書。」她很固執,所以還是設法進了大學,拿到碩士學位。競選地方公職,結果勝選;競選州政府公職;再次勝選;競選國會議員,依然勝選。現在看來-Hilda Solis最後確實成為一位秘書-(笑聲)她是美國勞工部部長。(部長和秘書均為secretary)(歡呼聲)(掌聲)所以,想想這對一位拉丁裔年輕女孩有何意義;當她看見一位外表與她相似的內閣部長。想想這對一位愛荷華州年輕女孩有何意義;當她看見一位外表與她相似的總統候選人。想想這對一位走在哈林區街上的年輕女孩有何意義;當她看見一位外表與她相似的駐聯合國大使。不要低估了以身作則的力量。這張文憑開啟了新的可能性。所以,請以過來人身份,說服另一個年輕女孩也取得一張。如果妳取得的學位是需要更多女性投入的領域-例如計算機科學或工程學-我們-(歡呼聲)(掌聲)也請以過來人身份,說服另一名學生投入這門專業。如果妳們進入的是需要更多女性加入的領域,例如建築或電腦工程-請提攜後進,雇用一位新人,做一位指導者,做一個榜樣。除非一位女孩能想像自己成為程式設計師或作戰指揮官,否則她無法成為那樣的角色。除非有位女性告訴她,別在意我們流行文化對美麗和時尚的迷戀-專注於-(歡呼聲)(掌聲)專注於學習、發明、競爭和領導,否則她會認為女孩只應該在意那些事。現在,蜜雪兒(第一夫人)會說,稍微在意些有什麼關係?(笑聲)(掌聲)妳可以既時尚又有力量,那是-(歡呼聲)(掌聲)那是蜜雪兒的建議。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)別忘了,年輕女孩所能仿效的最重要榜樣就是父母。Malia和Sasha將成為傑出的女性,因為蜜雪兒和Marian Robinson(蜜雪兒母親)都是十分出色的女性。所以,瞭解妳們的力量,並善加運用。

 

我的最後一點建議-非常簡單,但或許是最重要的:堅持到底,堅持到底。任何有價值的事物都得之不易;任何人在成功的路途中不免歷經失敗,有時甚至一敗塗地,但他們繼續堅持,從錯誤中學習,絕不放棄。妳們知道,我剛來這裡就讀時,身上沒多少錢,擁有的選擇更少。我在這裡求學期間,試著尋找自己在這個世界的定位,我知道自己希望能有所作為,但對如何著手卻毫無頭緒。(笑聲)但我希望能盡一己之力,塑造一個更美好的世界。所以,即使我畢業後,在紐約從事過幾份令人不甚滿意的工作-我不打算一一列舉。(笑聲)即使當我從龍蛇混雜的公寓搬到另一間龍蛇混雜的公寓時,我依然不斷地嘗試,我開始寫信給全國各地的社區組織。某天,芝加哥南部一個小型教會組織回了信,提供我一份工作-服務因鋼鐵廠停業而遭受重創的社區居民。當地的就業機會越來越少,社區裡幫派橫行,所以我一到那裡,第一件著手進行的事就是和社區領袖開會,商量處理幫派問題的方法。我為這項計畫奔波了好幾個星期,我們邀請警察出席、四處打電話、拜訪教堂、散發傳單。開會當晚,我們排好一排排椅子,滿心期待會有一大群人到場。我們等著等著…最後,一群老人走進大廳,坐了下來。一位矮小的老太太舉起手,問道,「賓果遊戲是在這裡嗎?」(笑聲)實在慘不忍睹。沒有任何人出席,我的第一次社區大會沒人到場。之後,協助我工作的志工跟我說,「到此為止,我們不幹了。」他們在我來之前已在此工作了兩年,得不到任何成效。老實說,我也相當沮喪,我不知道自己在做什麼,我考慮一走了之。當我們交談時,我向外看了一眼,看見一群男孩在馬路對面的空地玩,他們朝一座用木板釘起的建築扔石塊。他們沒什麼事好做,就只是在深夜裡扔石塊。我對那些志工說,「在你們退出前,先回答一個問題。如果你們離開了,那些男孩會如何?如果我們放手不管,有誰會為他們爭取權益?如果我們離開,有誰會給他們一個公平機會?」一個接一個地,志工們決定不退出了。我們回到那些街區,繼續進行各項工作。我們讓新選民進行投票登記;安排課後輔導;我們為居民爭取新的工作機會;幫助人們過更有尊嚴的生活。我們用那些小小的勝利鼓勵自己堅持下去。我們並沒有做出什麼驚天動地的改變,有些社區仍十分貧窮,幫派仍四處橫行。但我相信,正是這些小小的勝利,幫助我在過去三年半的總統生涯中贏得更大的勝利。

 

我希望我能說,這種堅持來自於我與生俱來的某種毅力,但事實是,這是經由學習而得;這是從撫養我長大的人身上學到的。更確切地說,是從塑造了我人生的女性身上學到的。我是由單身母親撫養長大的孩子,她含辛茹苦地同時求學及設法維持家計,她有過一段破碎的婚姻,甚至有段日子僅靠食品券養家度日。她沒有放棄。她取得學位,確保靠著獎學金和辛勤工作,能讓我和妹妹取得我們的學位。當我們住在海外時,她總是叫我起床,天沒亮就叫我叫起床,研讀英語課程。當我抱怨時,她只是看著我說,「這對我也不輕鬆,小鬼。」(笑聲)我母親最後致力於幫助世界各地女性取得創業資金的工作,她是小額信貸的先鋒。但這意味著她經常不在家。她也有自己本身的掙扎,試著在母親角色和事業發展間取得平衡。她不在家時,由外婆擔負起照顧我的責任。她僅高中畢業,在當地銀行找到一份工作。她遇上無法升遷的障礙,眼睜睜看著她指導過的男性晉升到比她更高的職位,但她沒有放棄。她沒有因為一再被忽略而變得冷酷或憤怒,只是繼續盡全力做好份內的工作,最後她成為那家銀行的副總裁。她沒有放棄。

 

之後,我遇見一位女性,她被指派擔任我在一家律師事務所、第一份暑期工作的指導者。她指導的相當棒,所以我後來娶了她。(笑聲)蜜雪兒和我竭盡所能地,試著在事業和這個新家庭間取得平衡。但老實說,無論我當時認為自己多通情達理,每當在我到外地出差或不在家時,更多的責任就落到她肩上。我知道,當她照顧兩個女兒時,會因為沒在工作上付出足夠時間而感到內疚;當她工作時,會因為沒花足夠時間照顧孩子而感到內疚。我們兩人都希望能擁有某種超能力,讓我們能同時出現在兩個地方。但我們堅持到底,成功地經營了這段婚姻。

 

蜜雪兒之所以能堅強地處理一切,忍受我、最後還得忍受公眾的目光,是因為她也同樣來自一個從不輕言放棄的家庭。因為她看見父親每天起床上班-儘管他並未完成大學學業,儘管他因多發性硬化症而行動不便。她看見母親-儘管她並未完成大學學業,但在那個學校,那個都市學區的學校,每天確保蜜雪兒和哥哥接受他們應接受的教育。蜜雪兒看見父母是如何從不放棄、從不自艾自憐,無論面臨多麼糟的處境,他們從不放棄。

 

正是這些人激勵了我。有時人們會問我,「是誰激勵了你,總統先生?」這些在全國各地、默默耕耘的無名英雄,有些人的父母和祖父母今天也在現場。沒有為他們吹奏的號角、沒有頌揚他們的文章,他們只是堅持到底。他們只是盡忠職守、履行責任;他們從不放棄。因為他們的存在,才有今天的我。他們或許不曾打算改變世界,但以一步一腳印的方式,他們改變了世界;他們毫無疑問地改變了我的世界。

 

因此,無論是創業、競選公職或經營一個美滿家庭,請記住,在這個世界留下妳的印記並不容易。這需要耐心、需要投入,伴隨著大量的挫折及無數的失敗。但每當妳感覺逐漸出現的冷嘲熱諷;每當妳聽見人們說妳無法改變現狀;每當有人要妳別好高騖遠,這個國家前進的軌跡應該能帶給妳希望;前輩們的經歷應該能帶給妳希望;在妳之前的年輕世代所做的一切應該能帶給妳希望。那些遊行、動員、挺身而出、靜坐抗議的年輕人,從Seneca Falls到Selma到Stonewall(女權、公民權、同志權等抗爭事件發生地)。他們這麼做不僅是為了自己,也是為了別人。這就是我們獲得女性權利的原因;這就是我們獲得投票權的原因;這就是我們獲得工人權利的原因;這就是我們獲得同性戀權利的原因;這就是我們使這個聯邦更完美的原因。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

如果妳們願意現在就貢獻一己之力;如果妳們願意挺身而出、縮小美國現狀與理想之間的差距;我希望妳們知道,我會在妳們身邊。如果妳已經準備好-(歡呼聲)(掌聲)如果妳已經準備好為這個美好且十分簡單的美國理想而奮鬥-無論妳是誰、外貌如何;無論妳愛誰或信仰什麼宗教-妳仍然可以追求自己的幸福;我會在這條道路上一路陪著妳們前進。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

現在,比以往任何時候更是如此-(掌聲)現在,美國比以往任何時候更需要妳們2012年畢業生所能貢獻的一切。美國需要妳們高瞻遠矚、胸懷大志。如果妳們能為自己取得一席之地、樹立一個更好的榜樣、堅持自己畢生的志向,我堅信妳們不僅會成功,藉由妳們的努力,我們國家將繼續成為照亮全球每一個角落的男人和女人、男孩和女孩的燈塔。

 

謝謝大家,恭喜妳們。天佑諸位、天佑美利堅合眾國。

 

(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

 About this talk

President Barack H. Obama delivered the keynote address at Barnard College’s 120th Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 14, 2012. He also received the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the college’s highest honor, alongside Helene D. Gayle ’76, president and CEO of CARE USA; Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry; and Sally Chapman, Barnard professor of chemistry.

 

About Barack Obama

The 44th and current president of the United States, Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was a civil rights lawyer before pursuing a political career, first as Illinois State Senator, and later as the first African-American president of the United States. President Obama continues to enact policy changes in response to the issues of health care and economic crisis.

 

About this transcript

Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Please, please have a seat.  Thank you.  (Applause.)


Thank you, President Spar, trustees, President Bollinger.  Hello, Class of 2012!  (Applause.)  Congratulations on reaching this day.  Thank you for the honor of being able to be a part of it.

There are so many people who are proud of you -- your parents, family, faculty, friends -- all who share in this achievement.  So please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  To all the moms who are here today, you could not ask for a better Mother’s Day gift than to see all of these folks graduate.  (Applause.)

I have to say, though, whenever I come to these things, I start thinking about Malia and Sasha graduating, and I start tearing up and -- (laughter) -- it's terrible.  I don't know how you guys are holding it together.  (Laughter.)

I will begin by telling a hard truth:  I’m a Columbia college graduate.  (Laughter and applause.)  I know there can be a little bit of a sibling rivalry here.  (Laughter.)  But I’m honored nevertheless to be your commencement speaker today -- although I’ve got to say, you set a pretty high bar given the past three years.  (Applause.)  Hillary Clinton -- (applause) -- Meryl Streep -- (applause) -- Sheryl Sandberg -- these are not easy acts to follow.  (Applause.)

But I will point out Hillary is doing an extraordinary job as one of the finest Secretaries of State America has ever had.  (Applause.)  We gave Meryl the Presidential Medal of Arts and Humanities.  (Applause.)  Sheryl is not just a good friend; she’s also one of our economic advisers.  So it’s like the old saying goes -- keep your friends close, and your Barnard commencement speakers even closer.  (Applause.)  There's wisdom in that.  (Laughter.)  

Now, the year I graduated -- this area looks familiar -- (laughter) -- the year I graduated was 1983, the first year women were admitted to Columbia.  (Applause.)  Sally Ride was the first American woman in space.  Music was all about Michael and the Moonwalk.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Do it!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No Moonwalking.  (Laughter.)  No Moonwalking today.  (Laughter.)

We had the Walkman, not iPods.  Some of the streets around here were not quite so inviting.  (Laughter.)  Times Square was not a family destination.  (Laughter.)  So I know this is all ancient history.  Nothing worse than commencement speakers droning on about bygone days.  (Laughter.)  But for all the differences, the Class of 1983 actually had a lot in common with all of you.  For we, too, were heading out into a world at a moment when our country was still recovering from a particularly severe economic recession.  It was a time of change.  It was a time of uncertainty.  It was a time of passionate political debates.

You can relate to this because just as you were starting out finding your way around this campus, an economic crisis struck that would claim more than 5 million jobs before the end of your freshman year.  Since then, some of you have probably seen parents put off retirement, friends struggle to find work.  And you may be looking toward the future with that same sense of concern that my generation did when we were sitting where you are now.

Of course, as young women, you’re also going to grapple with some unique challenges, like whether you’ll be able to earn equal pay for equal work; whether you’ll be able to balance the demands of your job and your family; whether you’ll be able to fully control decisions about your own health.

And while opportunities for women have grown exponentially over the last 30 years, as young people, in many ways you have it even tougher than we did.  This recession has been more brutal, the job losses steeper.  Politics seems nastier.  Congress more gridlocked than ever.  Some folks in the financial world have not exactly been model corporate citizens.  (Laughter.)

No wonder that faith in our institutions has never been lower, particularly when good news doesn’t get the same kind of ratings as bad news anymore.  Every day you receive a steady stream of sensationalism and scandal and stories with a message that suggest change isn’t possible; that you can’t make a difference; that you won’t be able to close that gap between life as it is and life as you want it to be.

My job today is to tell you don’t believe it.  Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher.  I’ve seen your passion and I’ve seen your service.  I’ve seen you engage and I’ve seen you turn out in record numbers.  I’ve heard your voices amplified by creativity and a digital fluency that those of us in older generations can barely comprehend.  I’ve seen a generation eager, impatient even, to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course.

And that defiant, can-do spirit is what runs through the veins of American history.  It’s the lifeblood of all our progress.  And it is that spirit which we need your generation to embrace and rekindle right now.

See, the question is not whether things will get better -- they always do.  The question is not whether we’ve got the solutions to our challenges -- we’ve had them within our grasp for quite some time.  We know, for example, that this country would be better off if more Americans were able to get the kind of education that you’ve received here at Barnard -- (applause) -- if more people could get the specific skills and training that employers are looking for today.

We know that we’d all be better off if we invest in science and technology that sparks new businesses and medical breakthroughs; if we developed more clean energy so we could use less foreign oil and reduce the carbon pollution that’s threatening our planet.  (Applause.)  

We know that we’re better off when there are rules that stop big banks from making bad bets with other people’s money and -- (applause) -- when insurance companies aren’t allowed to drop your coverage when you need it most or charge women differently from men.  (Applause.)  Indeed, we know we are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect of American life -- whether it’s the salary you earn or the health decisions you make.  (Applause.)  

We know these things to be true.  We know that our challenges are eminently solvable.  The question is whether together, we can muster the will -- in our own lives, in our common institutions, in our politics -- to bring about the changes we need.  And I’m convinced your generation possesses that will.  And I believe that the women of this generation -- that all of you will help lead the way.  (Applause.)

Now, I recognize that’s a cheap applause line when you're giving a commencement at Barnard.  (Laughter.)  It’s the easy thing to say.  But it’s true.  It is -- in part, it is simple math.  Today, women are not just half this country; you’re half its workforce.  (Applause.)  More and more women are out-earning their husbands.  You’re more than half of our college graduates, and master’s graduates, and PhDs.  (Applause.)   So you’ve got us outnumbered.  (Laughter.)

After decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress, you are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny but the destiny of this nation and of this world.

But how far your leadership takes this country, how far it takes this world -- well, that will be up to you.  You’ve got to want it.  It will not be handed to you.  And as someone who wants that future -- that better future -- for you, and for Malia and Sasha, as somebody who’s had the good fortune of being the husband and the father and the son of some strong, remarkable women, allow me to offer just a few pieces of advice.  That's obligatory.  (Laughter.)  Bear with me.

My first piece of advice is this:  Don’t just get involved.  Fight for your seat at the table.  Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.  (Applause.)

It’s been said that the most important role in our democracy is the role of citizen.  And indeed, it was 225 years ago today that the Constitutional Convention opened in Philadelphia, and our founders, citizens all, began crafting an extraordinary document.  Yes, it had its flaws -- flaws that this nation has strived to protect (perfect) over time.  Questions of race and gender were unresolved.  No woman’s signature graced the original document -- although we can assume that there were founding mothers whispering smarter things in the ears of the founding fathers.   (Applause.)  I mean, that's almost certain.

What made this document special was that it provided the space -- the possibility -- for those who had been left out of our charter to fight their way in.  It provided people the language to appeal to principles and ideals that broadened democracy’s reach.  It allowed for protest, and movements, and the dissemination of new ideas that would repeatedly, decade after decade, change the world -- a constant forward movement that continues to this day.

Our founders understood that America does not stand still; we are dynamic, not static.  We look forward, not back.  And now that new doors have been opened for you, you’ve got an obligation to seize those opportunities.

You need to do this not just for yourself but for those who don’t yet enjoy the choices that you’ve had, the choices you will have.  And one reason many workplaces still have outdated policies is because women only account for 3 percent of the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.  One reason we’re actually refighting long-settled battles over women’s rights is because women occupy fewer than one in five seats in Congress.

Now, I’m not saying that the only way to achieve success is by climbing to the top of the corporate ladder or running for office -- although, let’s face it, Congress would get a lot more done if you did.  (Laughter and applause.)  That I think we’re sure about.  But if you decide not to sit yourself at the table, at the very least you’ve got to make sure you have a say in who does.  It matters.

Before women like Barbara Mikulski and Olympia Snowe and others got to Congress, just to take one example, much of federally-funded research on diseases focused solely on their effects on men.  It wasn’t until women like Patsy Mink and Edith Green got to Congress and passed Title IX, 40 years ago this year, that we declared women, too, should be allowed to compete and win on America’s playing fields.  (Applause.)  Until a woman named Lilly Ledbetter showed up at her office and had the courage to step up and say, you know what, this isn’t right, women weren’t being treated fairly -- we lacked some of the tools we needed to uphold the basic principle of equal pay for equal work.

So don’t accept somebody else’s construction of the way things ought to be.  It’s up to you to right wrongs.  It’s up to you to point out injustice.  It’s up to you to hold the system accountable and sometimes upend it entirely.  It’s up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote.  Don’t be content to just sit back and watch.

Those who oppose change, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, have always bet on the public’s cynicism or the public's complacency.  Throughout American history, though, they have lost that bet, and I believe they will this time as well.  (Applause.)  But ultimately, Class of 2012, that will depend on you.  Don’t wait for the person next to you to be the first to speak up for what’s right.  Because maybe, just maybe, they’re waiting on you.

Which brings me to my second piece of advice:  Never underestimate the power of your example.  The very fact that you are graduating, let alone that more women now graduate from college than men, is only possible because earlier generations of women -- your mothers, your grandmothers, your aunts -- shattered the myth that you couldn’t or shouldn’t be where you are.  (Applause.)

I think of a friend of mine who’s the daughter of immigrants.  When she was in high school, her guidance counselor told her, you know what, you’re just not college material.  You should think about becoming a secretary.  Well, she was stubborn, so she went to college anyway.  She got her master’s.  She ran for local office, won.  She ran for state office, she won.  She ran for Congress, she won.  And lo and behold, Hilda Solis did end up becoming a secretary -- (laughter) -- she is America’s Secretary of Labor.  (Applause.)

So think about what that means to a young Latina girl when she sees a Cabinet secretary that looks like her.  (Applause.)  Think about what it means to a young girl in Iowa when she sees a presidential candidate who looks like her.  Think about what it means to a young girl walking in Harlem right down the street when she sees a U.N. ambassador who looks like her.  Do not underestimate the power of your example.

This diploma opens up new possibilities, so reach back, convince a young girl to earn one, too.  If you earned your degree in areas where we need more women -- like computer science or engineering -- (applause) -- reach back and persuade another student to study it, too.  If you're going into fields where we need more women, like construction or computer engineering -- reach back, hire someone new.  Be a mentor.  Be a role model.

Until a girl can imagine herself, can picture herself as a computer programmer, or a combatant commander, she won’t become one.  Until there are women who tell her, ignore our pop culture obsession over beauty and fashion -- (applause) -- and focus instead on studying and inventing and competing and leading, she’ll think those are the only things that girls are supposed to care about.  Now, Michelle will say, nothing wrong with caring about it a little bit.  (Laughter.)  You can be stylish and powerful, too.  (Applause.)  That's Michelle’s advice.  (Applause.)

And never forget that the most important example a young girl will ever follow is that of a parent.  Malia and Sasha are going to be outstanding women because Michelle and Marian Robinson are outstanding women.  So understand your power, and use it wisely.  

My last piece of advice -- this is simple, but perhaps most important:  Persevere.  Persevere.  Nothing worthwhile is easy.  No one of achievement has avoided failure -- sometimes catastrophic failures.  But they keep at it.  They learn from mistakes.  They don’t quit.

You know, when I first arrived on this campus, it was with little money, fewer options.  But it was here that I tried to find my place in this world.  I knew I wanted to make a difference, but it was vague how in fact I’d go about it.  (Laughter.)  But I wanted to do my part to do my part to shape a better world.

So even as I worked after graduation in a few unfulfilling jobs here in New York -- I will not list them all -- (laughter) -- even as I went from motley apartment to motley apartment, I reached out.  I started to write letters to community organizations all across the country.  And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago answered, offering me work with people in neighborhoods hit hard by steel mills that were shutting down and communities where jobs were dying away.

The community had been plagued by gang violence, so once I arrived, one of the first things we tried to do was to mobilize a meeting with community leaders to deal with gangs.  And I’d worked for weeks on this project.  We invited the police; we made phone calls; we went to churches; we passed out flyers.  The night of the meeting we arranged rows and rows of chairs in anticipation of this crowd.  And we waited, and we waited.  And finally, a group of older folks walked in to the hall and they sat down.  And this little old lady raised her hand and asked, “Is this where the bingo game is?”  (Laughter.)  It was a disaster.  Nobody showed up.  My first big community meeting -- nobody showed up.

And later, the volunteers I worked with told me, that's it; we’re quitting.  They'd been doing this for two years even before I had arrived.  They had nothing to show for it.  And I’ll be honest, I felt pretty discouraged as well.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I thought about quitting.  And as we were talking, I looked outside and saw some young boys playing in a vacant lot across the street.  And they were just throwing rocks up at a boarded building.  They had nothing better to do  -- late at night, just throwing rocks.  And I said to the volunteers, “Before you quit, answer one question.  What will happen to those boys if you quit?  Who will fight for them if we don’t?  Who will give them a fair shot if we leave?

And one by one, the volunteers decided not to quit.  We went back to those neighborhoods and we kept at it.  We registered new voters, and we set up after-school programs, and we fought for new jobs, and helped people live lives with some measure of dignity.  And we sustained ourselves with those small victories.  We didn’t set the world on fire.  Some of those communities are still very poor.  There are still a lot of gangs out there.  But I believe that it was those small victories that helped me win the bigger victories of my last three and a half years as President.

And I wish I could say that this perseverance came from some innate toughness in me.  But the truth is, it was learned.  I got it from watching the people who raised me.  More specifically, I got it from watching the women who shaped my life.

I grew up as the son of a single mom who struggled to put herself through school and make ends meet.  She had marriages that fell apart; even went on food stamps at one point to help us get by.  But she didn’t quit.  And she earned her degree, and made sure that through scholarships and hard work, my sister and I earned ours.  She used to wake me up when we were living overseas -- wake me up before dawn to study my English lessons.  And when I’d complain, she’d just look at me and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”  (Laughter.)  And my mom ended up dedicating herself to helping women

around the world access the money they needed to start their own businesses -- she was an early pioneer in microfinance.  And that meant, though, that she was gone a lot, and she had her own struggles trying to figure out balancing motherhood and a career.  And when she was gone, my grandmother stepped up to take care of me.

She only had a high school education.  She got a job at a local bank.  She hit the glass ceiling, and watched men she once trained promoted up the ladder ahead of her.  But she didn’t quit.  Rather than grow hard or angry each time she got passed over, she kept doing her job as best as she knew how, and ultimately ended up being vice president at the bank.  She didn’t quit.

And later on, I met a woman who was assigned to advise me on my first summer job at a law firm.  And she gave me such good advice that I married her.  (Laughter.)  And Michelle and I gave everything we had to balance our careers and a young family.  But let’s face it, no matter how enlightened I must have thought myself to be, it often fell more on her shoulders when I was traveling, when I was away.  I know that when she was with our girls, she’d feel guilty that she wasn’t giving enough time to her work, and when she was at her work, she’d feel guilty she wasn’t giving enough time to our girls.  And both of us wished we had some superpower that would let us be in two places at once.  But we persisted.  We made that marriage work.

And the reason Michelle had the strength to juggle everything, and put up with me and eventually the public spotlight, was because she, too, came from a family of folks who didn’t quit -- because she saw her dad get up and go to work every day even though he never finished college, even though he had crippling MS.  She saw her mother, even though she never finished college, in that school, that urban school, every day making sure Michelle and her brother were getting the education they deserved.  Michelle saw how her parents never quit.  They never indulged in self-pity, no matter how stacked the odds were against them.  They didn't quit.

Those are the folks who inspire me.  People ask me sometimes, who inspires you, Mr. President?  Those quiet heroes all across this country -- some of your parents and grandparents who are sitting here -- no fanfare, no articles written about them, they just persevere.  They just do their jobs.  They meet their responsibilities.  They don't quit.  I'm only here because of them.  They may not have set out to change the world, but in small, important ways, they did.  They certainly changed mine.

So whether it’s starting a business, or running for office, or raising a amazing family, remember that making your mark on the world is hard.  It takes patience.  It takes commitment.  It comes with plenty of setbacks and it comes with plenty of failures.

But whenever you feel that creeping cynicism, whenever you hear those voices say you can’t make a difference, whenever somebody tells you to set your sights lower -- the trajectory of this country should give you hope.  Previous generations should give you hope.  What young generations have done before should give you hope.  Young folks who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat in, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, didn’t just do it for themselves; they did it for other people.  (Applause.)

That’s how we achieved women’s rights.  That's how we achieved voting rights.  That's how we achieved workers’ rights.  That's how we achieved gay rights.  (Applause.)  That’s how we’ve made this Union more perfect.  (Applause.)

And if you’re willing to do your part now, if you're willing to reach up and close that gap between what America is and what America should be, I want you to know that I will be right there with you.  (Applause.)  If you are ready to fight for that brilliant, radically simple idea of America that no matter who you are or what you look like, no matter who you love or what God you worship, you can still pursue your own happiness, I will join you every step of the way.  (Applause.)

Now more than ever -- now more than ever, America needs what you, the Class of 2012, has to offer.  America needs you to reach high and hope deeply.  And if you fight for your seat at the table, and you set a better example, and you persevere in what you decide to do with your life, I have every faith not only that you will succeed, but that, through you, our nation will continue to be a beacon of light for men and women, boys and girls, in every corner of the globe.

 


留下您對本課程的評論
標題:
您目前為非會員,留言名稱將顯示「匿名非會員」
只能進行20字留言

留言內容:

驗證碼請輸入0 + 1 =

標籤

現有標籤:1
新增標籤:


有關本課程的討論

目前暫無評論,快來留言吧!

Creative Commons授權條款 本站一切著作係採用 Creative Commons 授權條款授權。
協助推廣單位: