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歐普拉為2013年哈佛大學畢業生演講

Oprah Winfrey's 2013 Harvard Commencement Speech

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:歐普拉

2013年5月30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 Harvard Gazette

歐普拉給2013年畢業生的忠告:「只要你願意傾聽,接受內在導航系統的指引-找到使你充滿熱情的人生目標-你將安然度過一切。你將感到快樂…」

 

關於歐普拉(來源Wikipedia

歐普拉(本名Orpah Gail Winfrey,生於1954年1月29日)是美國媒體大亨、脫口秀主持人、演員、製片和慈善家。歐普拉最為人熟知的是以她本人命名、獲獎無數的脫口秀節目。這部於1986年至2011年於全美聯播的脫口秀,已成為談話類節目歷史上收視率最高的節目。她是20世紀最富有的非裔美國人,也是美國歷史上最傑出的黑人慈善家;有段時期,她是世上唯一一位黑人億萬富翁。根據某些統計評估,她也是世上最有影響力的女性。

 

歐普拉為2013年哈佛大學畢業生演講

 

喔,天哪!我在哈佛!(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

哇!感謝Faust校長、與我同獲榮譽學位的夥伴、Carl(哈佛校友會會長)。實在太棒了,感激不盡。感謝James Rothenberg、Stephanie Wilson、哈佛全體教職員,特別感謝我朋友Henry Lewis Gates博士(歡呼聲)(掌聲)。感謝所有校友,特別感謝88年校友和你們1億1500萬美元捐款(歡呼聲)(掌聲)。還有你們,2013年哈佛畢業生!哈囉!(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

感謝各位讓我參與你們這段人生篇章的結束,以及下一段人生篇章的開始,簡單一句「深感榮幸」實在無法表達我對榮獲哈佛榮譽學位的感激之情(笑聲)。沒幾個來自密西西比鄉下的女孩有幸能一路邁向劍橋(哈佛大學位於劍橋市)。坦白告訴各位,我將今天視為…當我今早坐在講臺上,為你們和我自己喜極而泣時,我將今天視為這段漫長而幸運的旅程中一個決定性的里程碑。我今天最大的期望是為大家帶來一些啟發;我想將這場演講獻給任何曾經感到自卑,或遭受虧待、感到人生一團糟的人-這是獻給Quad(離哈佛主校區較遠,一般認為環境較差的校舍)的演講。(笑聲)(掌聲)

 

事實上我深感榮幸,我想替大家做些十分特別的事。我希望能對大家說,看看座位底下,那裡有免費的-免費的碩士和博士學位,但我發現-我發現你們已不缺這個了。(笑聲)

 

坦白說,過去幾星期我承受極大壓力,試著想出某些你們不曾聽過的東西,因為畢竟你們都唸過哈佛,而我沒有。但後來我意識到,不一定非得唸過哈佛才能擁有充滿強迫性的A型人格(笑聲),但確實有所幫助。或許我並非哈佛畢業生,但我承認我的性格與哈佛人相去不遠。

 

你們知道,我的電視生涯始於意料之外。如你們今早聽說過的,我曾經參加防火小姐選拔。當時我16歲,於田納西的納什維爾參賽,擁有一頭紅髮算是獲勝的必要條件,直到我參賽那年。因此當比賽進行到機智問答時-因為我知道自己不可能在泳裝比賽中獲勝-因此當比賽進行到機智問答時,題目是:「年輕的女士,妳長大後想做什麼?」輪到我回答時,所有好答案都被說完了(笑聲)。因此-當天早上我剛好看了芭芭拉‧華特斯主持的《今日秀》,因此我回答:「我想成為記者,我希望以能夠影響眾人生活和世界的方式報導人們的故事。」當那些話從我口中冒出時,我想,哇!這個主意棒透了!(笑聲)我想成為記者,我想有所作為。

 

好,19歲時,我進入電視圈;1986年,我推出自己的電視節目,下定決心非成功不可。競爭令我神經緊張,然後-我成了自己的競爭目標;不斷提高標準,竭盡所能地鞭策自己。聽起來熟悉嗎,在座各位?最後我們成功登上顛峰,我們在那裡停留了25年(歡呼聲)(掌聲),《歐普拉秀》蟬聯21年收視冠軍。我得坦白告訴各位,那份成就令我志得意滿。

 

但幾年前,我決定-你們也將經歷這個階段-是重新出發的時候了。尋找新版圖、開創新局面。因此我結束《歐普拉秀》,推出OWN-歐普拉電視網-字首縮寫剛好代表「我的」。因此-OWN推出一年後,幾乎所有媒體都說我的新事業是失敗之作。不僅是失敗,而是一敗塗地-他們這麼說。我依然記得,某天我翻開《今日美國報》,頭條標題寫著〈歐普拉似乎搞不定「她的」電視網〉(笑聲)。我想,不會吧?《今日美國報》?那可是份好報!(笑聲)

 

去年此時確實是我職業生涯中最黑暗的時期。我心力交瘁、沮喪萬分;坦白說,我確實感到十分難堪。剛好在那個時候,Faust校長來電,邀請我來這裡演講。我心想,你要我替哈佛畢業生演講?我能對哈佛畢業生說什麼?這些世上最成功的畢業生?在我已不再成功的時候?因此我結束和Faust校長的通話,然後去淋浴。若不是淋浴,就是吃下一整包Oreos(笑聲),因此我選擇淋浴。

 

我在浴室待了很長一段時間。當我淋浴時,腦海裡突然浮現一首古老的讚美詩,你們或許沒聽過-「漸漸地,當黎明到來…」我開始思考,我的黎明何時才會到來,因為當時我感到身陷泥沼。然後我想起讚美詩中的一句話:「困境…困境不會永遠存在,終有雨過天晴的一天。」從浴室出來後,我想:我一定要扭轉局面;我會振作起來,當我達成目標後,我要到哈佛去,分享這個故事。因此我今天來到這裡,告訴大家,我已讓歐普拉電視網起死回生!(歡呼聲)(掌聲)這全是因為當時接到你們的演講邀請,因此-感激不盡,你們不知道你們帶給我多大動力,謝謝。

 

我甚至能更驕傲地分享一個真理,或許連哈佛畢業生也沒學過,除非你上過Nagy教授的古希臘英雄課(歡呼聲)(掌聲)。今天早上,我們入場時,Nagy教授說:「溫芙蕾女士,請堅定地向前邁進。」(笑聲)(掌聲)我確實該堅定地向前邁進,這就是我想分享的。

 

無論你可能達成什麼樣的成就,在某個時刻,你將遇上阻礙,因為-如果你持續和我們一樣,不斷提高標準;如果你不斷鞭策自己,朝更高的目標邁進;根據一般情況-更別提伊卡洛斯神話早有預言-你將在某個高度墜落。當你遇上這種情形時,我希望你們明白並記住這一點:人生沒有所謂的失敗,失敗只是人生試著讓我們轉個方向。

 

好-當你陷入谷底時,看起來確實像失敗(笑聲)。因此過去一年中,我必須不斷用這些話替自己打氣。當你陷入谷底、當你遭遇那個時刻時,讓自己難過一會兒無妨,給自己一點時間悼念你認為可能失去的一切。但之後-這是關鍵-從每一次錯誤中學習。因為每段經歷、每個遭遇,尤其是你犯的錯,都能讓你有所領悟,驅使你成為更真實的自己,然後釐清下一步該怎麼做。

 

生命的關鍵在於發展一套道德和情感的內在導航系統,指引你正確的方向。因為從今以後,當你用Google搜尋自己時,結果將顯示:「哈佛2013年畢業生。」(笑聲)

 

在這個競爭激烈的世界,這確實是一塊金字招牌。我可以告訴各位,身為一位僱用過許多員工的人,當我看見「哈佛」兩個字時,我會稍微坐直身子,然後說:「他 / 她在哪裡?快帶他們進來。」(笑聲)

 

這是令人眼睛一亮的招牌,未來的日子裡,甚至能發揮更令人矚目的影響:律師、參議員、企業領袖、科學家、物理學家,諾貝爾獎、普立茲獎得主,或深夜脫口秀主持人。但我發現,人生的挑戰在於建立一份履歷,不僅顯示你想達成什麼成就,也顯示你想成為什麼樣的人;不僅描述你想成就什麼事業,也說明其中原因;不僅列出所有頭銜和職位,也說明你人生的目的。因為-當你無法避免地遭遇挫折、發現自己陷入困境時,能幫助你脫困的正是這份履歷。

 

你內心真正的呼喚是什麼?你的信念是什麼?你的目標是什麼?以我為例,這個領悟出現在1994年。當時我採訪了一位小女孩,她立志募集零錢,幫助有需要的人。她獨力募集了一千美元,於是我想,如果一位九歲小女孩,僅靠著零錢筒和一份雄心,就能做到這種程度,我能做到什麼程度?因此我呼籲觀眾共襄盛舉。短短一個月內,一分一角地,我們募集了三百多萬美元。我們用這筆錢,從全美各州分別選出一位學生,資助他念大學,這就是天使網路的起源。(掌聲)

 

因此我所做的只是呼籲觀眾:「盡己所能;無論你身處何方、無論你處於人生哪個階段,盡己所能地貢獻你的時間、才華或金錢。」他們從善如流;無論何時何地,盡力將善心傳遞給他人。集眾人之力,我們在12個國家建立了55所學校;我們重建了將近300個於麗塔及卡崔娜颶風中被摧毀的家園。因此天使網路-我在電視圈打滾多年,但真正使我找到內在導航系統的是天使網路。它使我決定,除了每天出現在螢光幕前,我的節目、採訪、事業及慈善事業等,所有努力的目標-無論我致力於什麼事業-必須讓大眾瞭解:使我們團結的力量,終將比任何分化我們的力量更鼓舞人心、無遠弗屆。

 

因為我領悟到的是-我希望你們瞭解,這並非顯而易見之事。因為正如我提過的,我19歲開始在電視圈打滾,但直到94年才真正明白這一點。因此-別期待立刻看清一切、找到自己的目標。但我領悟到的是,我真正的使命是利用電視,而不是讓它利用我;利用電視傳播那股無遠弗屆的天使力量。因此-天使網路不僅改變了受助者的生活,也改變了助人者的生活。它提醒我們,無論擁有什麼身分,無論我們是什麼樣的人,或擁有什麼信仰,都可能做到這一點。更重要的是,這將成為一股強大的力量,當我們因共同目標和努力凝聚在一起時。

 

最近我在《比爾‧摩爾秀》中看見的某些內容,再次提醒了我這一點;那是對大衛及法蘭西‧惠勒的訪談。他們在桑迪胡克慘案中(康乃狄克州小學槍擊事件)失去7歲兒子Ben。儘管他們接受訪談時,國會已否決加強背景調查的槍支安全法案,他們聲明自己絕不會因此而氣餒。法蘭西說:「我們心碎不已,但不會灰心喪志。我想讓他們瞭解,能造成改變的溝通方式就是愛。我將採取這種方式,而非彼此鬥爭。」然後她丈夫大衛補充說:「你不能妖魔化或詆毀那些與你意見相左的人,因為當你這麼做時,溝通的機會將蕩然無存。我們不能讓這種情況持續下去,問題已經夠多了;總有辦法使光明驅走黑暗。」

 

在目前的政治體系和媒體環境中,我們經常看見這個國家的縮影-充滿對立、僵化和利已的氛圍。然而,我知道你們瞭解實際情形。我們都知道,我們不像華盛頓和有線新聞網般,時時傳播著憤世嫉俗和悲觀主義。順帶一提,我的頻道例外。(笑聲)

 

我們知道,我國大多數民眾都支持加強購槍背景調查。因為他們瞭解,我們能維護憲法第二修正案(保障人民持有及佩帶武器的權利),也能減少殘害兒童的暴力事件;兩者並非無法兼顧(掌聲)。我們知道,大多數美國人相信,會有一個明確的方式,讓1200萬名居住在這個國家的無證移民取得公民權。因為捍衛法律的同時,也能實踐自由女神代表的精神-歡迎任何世代的民眾前來我們的海岸;我們可以兩者兼顧。(掌聲)

 

我們明白這一點;我知道你們明白,因為你們是哈佛人。兩黨和無黨籍人士同樣認為,貧困的母親和家庭應獲得健康的食物、住所和良好的義務教育(掌聲)。因為在這個世上最富饒的國家中,我們有能力提供基本的安全和機會保障。因此,問題在於:我們打算怎麼做?說真的,你們打算怎麼做?也許你贊同這些理念,也許不贊同;也許你關心這些問題,也許你們-2013年畢業生-熱衷於其他挑戰;也許你想藉由擔任公職改變現狀;也許你想推出自己的電視節目;也許你只想募集一些零錢-現在你的父母將贊同這種做法。

 

關鍵在於,你們這一代肩負突破國家長期以來停滯不前的困境的使命。在座各位有幸擁有這個千載難逢的機會,就讀這所名校。現在你們有機會改善自己的生活、改變周遭人群和整個國家的命運。當你這麼做時,我想告訴各位我確信的事實:此時你的人生將充滿意義。

 

馬雅.安哲羅(著名詩人)總是說:「有所學,則傳授;有所穫,則給予。朋友們,這將賦予你人生目的與意義。」因此,你們都有能力以自己的方式打造屬於你們的天使網路。藉由這個做法,你將擁有更多強大的工具,產生比前人更大的影響力。我在類比世界中做到這一點;我有幸擁有一個平台,得以每天接觸將近2000萬名觀眾。如今,在這個擁有Twitter、Facebook、YouTube和Tumbler的世界,你可以在短短幾秒內接觸上億人。

 

你們這一代顛覆了世人對你們不關心世事、冷漠疏離的評價,在2008年大選中創下驚人的投票率。當權威人士談到這一代時,說你們失望透頂;你們太過灰心,不會在2012年大選中重現當年投票盛況,你們用更驚人的投票率證明他們的錯誤。這就是你們。(掌聲)

 

這一代,我所知的這一代,對B.S.(屁話)十分敏感。在哈佛能說「B.S.」嗎?關於國家議題的爭論充滿挑釁、謊言和惡意抹黑。我知道你們比大多數人更加瞭解,真正的進步需要真誠,一種真誠、實在的方式,最重要的是同理心。我必須坦言,25年的訪談生涯中,我最重要的領悟是,人類擁有一項共同天性-我可以告訴各位,大多數人不希望遭受孤立。我們希望的是-我在每一次訪談中發現的共同點是-我們希望獲得認同,我們希望獲得理解。

 

職業生涯中,我進行過35,000多場訪談,只要錄影機一關上,受訪者總是轉向我,絕無例外地,以他們的方式提出這個問題:「這樣可以嗎?」布希總統這麼問過、歐巴馬總統這麼問過、英雄這麼問過、家庭主婦這麼問過、犯罪事件的受害者和加害者這麼問過,甚至連碧昂絲和她所有粉絲也這麼問過。(笑聲)

 

她結束表演後,將麥克風遞給我,然後說:「這樣可以嗎?」朋友和家人、你們本身、敵人、陌生人,在每一次爭論、每一場相遇、每一次交流中,我可以告訴各位,他們都想知道一件事:這樣可以嗎?你聽見我所說的嗎?你瞭解我的意思嗎?我的話對你來說有任何意義嗎?

 

儘管這所大學是臉書誕生地,我希望你們試著走向人群,盡量和與你想法不同的人面對面溝通(掌聲)。這將使你有勇氣直視他們的雙眼、傾聽他們的見解,確保這個世界的迅速發展、遙遠距離和匿名趨勢,不會導致我們失去設身處地替他人著想的能力,意識到我們是一個共同體,這對個人和家的進步來說是必要之事。

 

「總有辦法使光明驅走黑暗」,12月一個平凡的星期五,一位兒子遭受屠殺的父親這麼說。因此,無論你稱它為什麼-靈魂、精神、崇高的自我或智慧-我清楚地知道,每個人心中都有一盞明燈,任何人皆然,能散發人性的光輝,只要你願意。

 

身為來自密西西比鄉下的年輕女孩,我很早就領悟到,做自己比模仿芭芭拉‧華特斯容易多了(笑聲)。雖然我的事業生涯始於芭芭拉的啟發;我試著模仿芭芭拉的坐姿、芭芭拉的談吐、芭芭拉的舉止。某天晚上,我讀新聞稿時,把加拿大唸成「咖拿達」(笑聲),從此我放棄模仿芭芭拉的念頭。當時我在主播檯上放聲大笑;我無法停止,顯露真正的自我。於是我恍然大悟:天哪!我可以成為更出色的歐普拉,而非四不像的芭芭拉。

 

我知道-(掌聲)我知道你們現在或許有些焦慮,對即將離開舒適的大學校園,讓哈佛頭銜接受檢驗感到遲疑。但無論你們在人生道路上可能面臨何種挑戰、挫折或失望,你將發現真正的成功和快樂,只要你堅守一個目標-確實只有一個-那就是:盡力展現真正的自我。你必須充分發揮人性光輝,藉由你的能量,幫助自己、家人及周遭的人。

 

神學家霍華‧瑟曼做了最好的詮釋,他說:「別問這個世界需要什麼,自問什麼事讓你充滿熱情,然後著手進行,因為世界需要充滿熱情的人。」

 

這個世界需要-(掌聲)像羅德岱堡的麥可‧史都森伯這樣的人。麥可年僅八歲時,差點因細菌感染而喪命,導致四肢遭受截肢的命運。一夕之間,這位充滿活力的小男孩成了四肢殘缺的人,他的人生從此改觀;但驟然變色的人生使麥可找到自己的人生目標。他拒絕整天坐在輪椅上自怨自艾,因此-藉由義肢,他重新學會行走、奔跑和運動。他加入中學的長曲棍球隊。上個月,當他得知許多波士頓馬拉松爆炸案的受害者將面臨截肢命運時,麥可決定用人性光輝驅走黑暗陰霾。

 

麥可和他的兄弟哈里斯成立了Mikeysrun.com網站,打算在哈里斯參加2014年波士頓馬拉松之前,替其他截肢者募集100萬美元。在距此一千多英哩的城市中,這對年輕的兄弟集眾人之力,支持波士頓地區的受害者,就像他們的社區支持麥可一樣。當這位13歲男孩被問及對那些和他同樣遭受截肢命運者的想法時,他說:「最初,他們會感到悲傷;他們失去某些再也無法復得的東西,這令人恐懼。我曾經感到恐懼,但他們將安然度過一切,只是現在他們還不明白。」

 

我們並非總是能明白,我們並非總是能從新聞報導中看見或聽見這一切,甚至從日常生活中感受。但我有信心,無論遭遇什麼事,2013年畢業生,你們將安然度過一切,你們將確保我們國家安然度過一切。

 

我有信心,因為那位走向人群、募集零錢的9歲女孩;我有信心,因為大衛和法蘭西‧惠勒;我有信心,因為麥可和哈里斯‧史都森伯;我有信心,因為你們,今天坐在這裡的天使網路成員。其中一位是Khadijah Williams,她四年前來到哈佛(歡呼聲)(掌聲)。Khadijah在12年中唸了12所學校,以垃圾袋為床,生活在皮條客、妓女、毒販充斥的街頭,無家可歸;早上到沃爾瑪百貨洗澡,以免同學聞到她身上的異味。今天她成了2013年哈佛畢業生的一員。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

你們不時會遇上阻礙、遭受挫折,請相信-這是無法避免的事,別懷疑-你將對人生感到疑惑,你將感到無所適從。但我知道,只要你願意傾聽,接受內在導航系統的指引,找到使你充滿熱情的人生目標,你將安然度過一切。你將感到快樂,你將獲得成功,你將使世界有所不同。

 

恭喜2013年畢業生,恭喜各位的親朋好友。祝好運,感謝聆聽。(掌聲)

 

這樣可以嗎?(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

Oprah Winfrey offering advice to the Class of 2013: "If you're willing to listen to, be guided by, that still small voice that is the G.P.S. within yourself — to find out what makes you come alive — you will be more than okay. You will be happy ..."
 
About Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Gail Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her multi-award-winning talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show" which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. She has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was for a time the world's only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world.
 
 
About the transcript
Oh my goodness! I’m at Harvard! Wow! To President Faust, my fellow honorans, Carl [Muller] that was so beautiful, thank you so much, and James Rothenberg, Stephanie Wilson, Harvard faculty, with a special bow to my friend Dr. Henry Lewis Gates. All of you alumni, with a special bow to the Class of ’88, your hundred fifteen million dollars. And to you, members of the Harvard class of 2013! Hello!
 
I thank you for allowing me to be a part of the conclusion of this chapter of your lives and the commencement of your next chapter. To say that I’m honored doesn’t even begin to quantify the depth of gratitude that really accompanies an honorary doctorate from Harvard. Not too many little girls from rural Mississippi have made it all the way here to Cambridge. And I can tell you that I consider today as I sat on the stage this morning getting teary for you all and then teary for myself, I consider today a defining milestone in a very long and a blessed journey. My one hope today is that I can be a source of some inspiration. I’m going to address my remarks to anybody who has ever felt inferior or felt disadvantaged, felt screwed by life, this is a speech for the Quad.
 
Actually I was so honored I wanted to do something really special for you. I wanted to be able to have you look under your seats and there would be free master and doctor degrees but I see you got that covered already. I will be honest with you. I felt a lot of pressure over the past few weeks to come up with something that I could share with you that you hadn’t heard before because after all you all went to Harvard, I did not. But then I realized that you don’t have to necessarily go to Harvard to have a driven obsessive Type A personality. But it helps. And while I may not have graduated from here I admit that my personality is about as Harvard as they come. You know my television career began unexpectedly. As you heard this morning I was in the Miss Fire Prevention contest. That was when I was 16 years old in Nashville, Tennessee, and you had the requirement of having to have red hair in order to win up until the year that I entered. So they were doing the question and answer period because I knew I wasn’t going to win under the swimsuit competition. So during the question and answer period the question came “Why, young lady, what would you like to be when you grow up?” And by the time they got to me all the good answers were gone. So I had seen Barbara Walters on the “Today Show” that morning so I answered, “I would like to be a journalist. I would like to tell other people’s stories in a way that makes a difference in their lives and the world.” And as those words were coming out of my mouth I went whoa! This is pretty good! I would like to be a journalist. I want to make a difference. Well I was on television by the time I was 19 years old. And in 1986 I launched my own television show with a relentless determination to succeed at first. I was nervous about the competition and then I became my own competition raising the bar every year, pushing, pushing, pushing myself as hard as I knew. Sound familiar to anybody here? Eventually we did make it to the top and we stayed there for 25 years.
 
The “Oprah Winfrey Show” was number one in our time slot for 21 years and I have to tell you I became pretty comfortable with that level of success. But a few years ago I decided, as you will at some point, that it was time to recalculate, find new territory, break new ground. So I ended the show and launched OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. The initials just worked out for me. So one year later after launching OWN, nearly every media outlet had proclaimed that my new venture was a flop. Not just a flop, but a big bold flop they call it. I can still remember the day I opened up USA Today and read the headline “Oprah, not quite standing on her OWN.” I mean really, USA Today? Now that’s the nice newspaper! It really was this time last year the worst period in my professional life. I was stressed and I was frustrated and quite frankly I was actually I was embarrassed. It was right around that time that President Faust called and asked me to speak here and I thought you want me to speak to Harvard graduates? What could I possibly say to Harvard graduates, some of the most successful graduates in the world in the very moment when I had stopped succeeding? So I got off the phone with President Faust and I went to the shower. It was either that or a bag of Oreos. So I chose the shower. And I was in the shower a long time and as I was in the shower the words of an old hymn came to me. You may not know it. It’s “By and by, when the morning comes.” And I started thinking about when the morning might come because at the time I thought I was stuck in a hole. And the words came to me “Trouble don’t last always” from that hymn, “this too shall pass.” And I thought as I got out of the shower I am going to turn this thing around and I will be better for it. And when I do, I’m going to go to Harvard and I’m going to speak the truth of it! So I’m here today to tell you I have turned that network around!
 
And it was all because I wanted to do it by the time I got to speak to you all so thank you so much. You don’t know what motivation you were for me, thank you. I’m even prouder to share a fundamental truth that you might not have learned even as graduates of Harvard unless you studied the ancient Greek hero with Professor Nagy. Professor Nagy as we were coming in this morning said, “Please Ms. Winfrey, walk decisively.”
 
I shall walk decisively.
 
This is what I want to share. It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point you are bound to stumble because if you’re constantly doing what we do, raising the bar. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, higher the law of averages not to mention the Myth of Icarus predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. Now when you’re down there in the hole, it looks like failure. So this past year I had to spoon feed those words to myself. And when you’re down in the hole, when that moment comes, it’s really okay to feel bad for a little while. Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost but then here’s the key, learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter, and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are. And then figure out what is the next right move. And the key to life is to develop an internal moral, emotional G.P.S. that can tell you which way to go. Because now and forever more when you Google yourself your search results will read “Harvard, 2013″. And in a very competitive world that really is a calling card because I can tell you as one who employs a lot of people when I see “Harvard” I sit up a little straighter and say, “Where is he or she? Bring them in.” It’s an impressive calling card that can lead to even more impressive bullets in the years ahead: lawyer, senator, C.E.O., scientist, physicist, winners of Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes or late night talk show host. But the challenge of life I have found is to build a résumé that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be but it’s a story about who you want to be. It’s a résumé that doesn’t just tell a story about what you want to accomplish but why. A story that’s not just a collection of titles and positions but a story that’s really about your purpose. Because when you inevitably stumble and find yourself stuck in a hole that is the story that will get you out. What is your true calling? What is your dharma? What is your purpose? For me that discovery came in 1994 when I interviewed a little girl who had decided to collect pocket change in order to help other people in need. She raised a thousand dollars all by herself and I thought, well if that little 9-year-old girl with a bucket and big heart could do that, I wonder what I could do? So I asked for our viewers to take up their own change collection and in one month, just from pennies and nickels and dimes, we raised more than three million dollars that we used to send one student from every state in the United States to college. That was the beginning of the Angel Network.
 
And so what I did was I simply asked our viewers, “Do what you can wherever you are, from wherever you sit in life. Give me your time or your talent your money if you have it.” And they did. Extend yourself in kindness to other human beings wherever you can. And together we built 55 schools in 12 different countries and restored nearly 300 homes that were devastated by hurricanes Rita and Katrina. So the Angel Network — I have been on the air for a long time — but it was the Angel Network that actually focused my internal G.P.S. It helped me to decide that I wasn’t going to just be on TV every day but that the goal of my shows, my interviews, my business, my philanthropy all of it, whatever ventures I might pursue would be to make clear that what unites us is ultimately far more redeeming and compelling than anything that separates me. Because what had become clear to me, and I want you to know, it isn’t always clear in the beginning because as I said I had been on television since I was 19 years old. But around ’94 I got really clear. So don’t expect the clarity to come all at once, to know your purpose right away, but what became clear to me was that I was here on Earth to use television and not be used by it; to use television to illuminate the transcendent power of our better angels. So this Angel Network, it didn’t just change the lives of those who were helped, but the lives of those who also did the helping. It reminded us that no matter who we are or what we look like or what we may believe, it is both possible and more importantly it becomes powerful to come together in common purpose and common effort. I saw something on the “Bill Moore Show” recently that so reminded me of this point. It was an interview with David and Francine Wheeler. They lost their 7-year-old son, Ben, in the Sandy Hook tragedy. And even though gun safety legislation to strengthen background checks had just been voted down in Congress at the time that they were doing this interview they talked about how they refused to be discouraged. Francine said this, she said, “Our hearts are broken but our spirits are not. I’m going to tell them what it’s like to find a conversation about change that is love, and I’m going to do that without fighting them.” And then her husband David added this, “You simply cannot demonize or vilify someone who doesn’t agree with you, because the minute you do that, your discussion is over. And we cannot do that any longer. The problem is too enormous. There has to be some way that this darkness can be banished with light.” In our political system and in the media we often see the reflection of a country that is polarized, that is paralyzed and is self-interested. And yet, I know you know the truth. We all know that we are better than the cynicism and the pessimism that is regurgitated throughout Washington and the 24-hour cable news cycle. Not my channel, by the way. We understand that the vast majority of people in this country believe in stronger background checks because they realize that we can uphold the Second Amendment and also reduce the violence that is robbing us of our children. They don’t have to be incompatible.
 
And we understand that most Americans believe in a clear path to citizenship for the 12,000,000 undocumented immigrants who reside in this country because it’s possible to both enforce our laws and at the same time embrace the words on the Statue of Liberty that have welcomed generations of huddled masses to our shores. We can do both.
 
And we understand. I know you do because you went to Harvard. There are people from both parties, and no party, [who] believe that indigent mothers and families should have access to healthy food and a roof over their heads and a strong public education because here in the richest nation on Earth, we can afford a basic level of security and opportunity. So the question is, what are we going to do about it? Really, what are you going to do about it? Maybe you agree with these beliefs. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you care about these issues and maybe there are other challenges that you, Class of 2013, are passionate about. Maybe you want to make a difference by serving in government. Maybe you want to launch your own television show. Or maybe you simply want to collect some change. Your parents would appreciate that about now. The point is your generation is charged with this task of breaking through what the body politic has thus far made impervious to change. Each of you has been blessed with this enormous opportunity of attending this prestigious school. You now have a chance to better your life, the lives of your neighbors and also the life of our country. When you do that let me tell you what I know for sure. That’s when your story gets really good. Maya Angelou always says, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give. That my friends is what gives your story purpose and meaning.” So you all have the power in your own way to develop your own Angel Network and in doing so, your class will be armed with more tools of influence and empowerment than any other generation in history. I did it in an analog world. I was blessed with a platform that at its height reached nearly 20,000,000 viewers a day. Now here in a world of Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Tumbler, you can reach billions in just seconds. You’re the generation that rejected predictions about your detachment and your disengagement by showing up to vote in record numbers in 2008. And when the pundits said, they said they talked about you, they said you’d be too disappointed, you’d be too dejected to repeat that same kind of turnout in 2012 election and you proved them wrong by showing up in even greater numbers. That’s who you are.
 
This generation, your generation I know, has developed a finely honed radar for B.S. Can you say “B.S.” at Harvard? The spin and phoniness and artificial nastiness that saturates so much of our national debate. I know you all understand better than most that real progress requires authentic — an authentic way of being, honesty, and above all empathy. I have to say that the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years talking every single day to people, was that there is a common denominator in our human experience. Most of us, I tell you we don’t want to be divided. What we want, the common denominator that I found in every single interview, is we want to be validated. We want to be understood. I have done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way asks this question “Was that okay?” I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives. I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crimes. I even heard it from Beyonce and all of her Beyonceness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone and says, “Was that okay?” Friends and family, yours, enemies, strangers in every argument in every encounter, every exchange I will tell you, they all want to know one thing: was that okay? Did you hear me? Do you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you? And even though this is a college where Facebook was born my hope is that you would try to go out and have more face-to-face conversations with people you may disagree with.
 
That you’ll have the courage to look them in the eye and hear their point of view and help make sure that the speed and distance and anonymity of our world doesn’t cause us to lose our ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes and recognize all that we share as a people. This is imperative, for you as an individual, and for our success as a nation. “There has to be some way that this darkness can be banished with light,” says the man whose little boy was massacred on just an ordinary Friday in December. So whether you call it soul or spirit or higher self, intelligence, there is I know this, there is a light inside each of you, all of us, that illuminates your very human beingness if you let it. And as a young girl from rural Mississippi I learned long ago that being myself was much easier than pretending to be Barbara Walters. Although when I first started because I had Barbara in my head I would try to sit like Barbara, talk like Barbara, move like Barbara and then one night I was on the news reading the news and I called Canada “Can-a-da,” and that was the end of me being Barbara. I cracked myself up on TV. Couldn’t start laughing and my real personality came through and I figured out, oh gee, I can be a much better Oprah than I could be a pretend Barbara.
 
I know that you all might have a little anxiety now and hesitation about leaving the comfort of college and putting those Harvard credentials to the test. But no matter what challenges or setbacks or disappointments you may encounter along the way, you will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal, there really is only one, and that is this: to fulfill the highest most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family and the people around you. Theologian Howard Thurman said it best. He said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” The world needs … People like Michael Stolzenberg from Fort Lauderdale. When Michael was just 8 years old Michael nearly died from a bacterial infection that cost him both of his hands and both of his feet. And in an instant, this vibrant little boy became a quadruple amputee and his life was changed forever. But in losing who he once was Michael discovered who he wanted to be. He refused to sit in that wheelchair all day and feel sorry for himself so with prosthetics he learned to walk and run and play again. He joined his middle school lacrosse team and last month when he learned that so many victims of the Boston Marathon bombing would become new amputees, Michael decided to banish that darkness with light. Michael and his brother, Harris, created Mikeysrun.com to raise $1 million for other amputees — by the time Harris runs the 2014 Boston Marathon. More than 1,000 miles away from here these two young brothers are bringing people together to support this Boston community the way their community came together to support Michael. And when this 13-year-old man was asked about his fellow amputees he said this, “First they will be sad. They’re losing something they will never get back and that’s scary. I was scared. But they’ll be okay. They just don’t know that yet.” We might not always know it. We might not always see it, or hear it on the news or even feel it in our daily lives, but I have faith that no matter what, Class of 2013, you will be okay and you will make sure our country is okay. I have faith because of that 9-year-old girl who went out and collected the change. I have faith because of David and Francine Wheeler, I have faith because of Michael and Harris Stolzenberg, and I have faith because of you, the network of angels sitting here today. One of them Khadijah Williams, who came to Harvard four years ago. Khadijah had attended 12 schools in 12 years, living out of garbage bags amongst pimps and prostitutes and drug dealers; homeless, going in to department stores, Wal-Mart in the morning to bathe herself so that she wouldn’t smell in front of her classmates, and today she graduates as a member of the Harvard Class of 2013.
 
From time to time you may stumble, fall, you will for sure, count on this, no doubt, you will have questions and you will have doubts about your path. But I know this, if you’re willing to listen to, be guided by, that still small voice that is the G.P.S. within yourself, to find out what makes you come alive, you will be more than okay. You will be happy, you will be successful, and you will make a difference in the world. Congratulations Class of 2013. Congratulations to your family and friends. Good luck, and thank you for listening. Was that okay?

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Great Job. I am appreciated for it.

Anonymous, 2013-12-17 10:49:33

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