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梅琳達.蓋茲為2013年杜克大學畢業生演講

Melinda Gates' Graduation Speech at Duke University

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:梅琳達.蓋茲(Melinda Gates)

2013年5月12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HuffpostCollege

慈善家梅琳達.蓋茲鼓勵母校杜克大學畢業生善用千禧世代的聯繫方式,並藉此貢獻世人。

 

關於梅琳達.蓋茲(來源Wikipedia

Melinda French Gates(原名Melinda Ann French;生於1964年8月15日)是美國實業家、慈善家及「比爾與梅琳達.蓋茲基金會」共同創辦人。她是比爾.蓋茲的妻子,任職於微軟時比爾相識,當時她是Microsoft Bob、Microsoft Encarta及Expedia等媒體產品專案經理。

 

梅琳達.蓋茲為2013年杜克大學畢業生演講

 

Brodhead校長、校董會委員及杜克大學所有成員,重返母校的感覺棒極了。很榮幸獲得這個榮譽學位,能為畢業生演講更令我欣喜。

 

首先我要向2013年畢業生說的是:恭喜。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)提醒你們一下,記得向母親道謝,今天是母親節。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

我得說,那場與路易斯維爾大學的比賽仍令我心痛不已。(笑聲)1986年,當K教練率領球隊首次進入決賽時,我是在校生。當時我們也敗在路易斯維爾手中,因此你們和我擁有相同的心痛,然而你們在校期間有幸目睹杜克榮獲第四次全國冠軍。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我不曾親眼目睹我們的球隊剪下籃網(杜克奪冠傳統),但我確實遠赴北卡羅來納大學教堂山分校觀看對抗麥可.喬丹那場比賽。我們贏了那場比賽,但麥可.喬丹已邁入50的事實讓我意識到身為本校學生是多麼久遠以前的事。但無論經過多少歲月,我依然感到與杜克緊密相連,尤其是這裡的地標-杜克花園。我經常到那裡讀書,紓解期末考壓力。昨天下午雨停後我去了那裡,為這場演講做準備。但除了地標之外,對我來說最深刻的感受是與本校夥伴的聯繫,四年校園生活中與我相遇的夥伴和朋友。

 

我懷疑是否存在某個字眼,能確實概括「杜克」這個標籤下一切事物的共同特質,但我能想到的最佳字眼就是「聯繫」,聯繫這正是我想在今天的畢業典禮中和你們討論的主題。

 

1982年8月,我離家求學,從德州達拉斯前往達勒姆。我父母以一份很棒的禮物紀念這個人生重要時刻:一台打字機,Olympus B12手提式打字機。它最棒的地方在於只有12磅重,包括手提箱及一切配件。我在杜克求學期間正值電腦取代打字機,成為撰寫論文另一項選擇的時期。我們這些計算機科學系學生對你們這些人文科系學生懷恨在心,因為你們老是霸佔我們的設備寫論文,這意味著我得在校園中某些令人毛骨悚然的大樓地下室待上很長時間,尤其是生科系大樓。我們在那棟大樓地下室裡埋首寫程式,看誰寫得最快、誰能寫出最有效的程式,我想你們今天或許稱之為「黑克松」(程式設計馬拉松競賽),輸掉比賽的人得走過長廊,觸摸生物系培育的那隻變種青蛙。(笑聲)

 

因此個人電腦及後來我任職於微軟時出現的網際網路真正開啟了通訊革命。我有三個孩子,當我觀察他們如今使用電腦和手機的情形時,我認為學生時期的我和你們這一代最大的差異在於聯繫方式。描述你們生活這方面的一個流行說法是:你們「緊密相連」。某些專家已開始稱你們為C世代,我認為最近一篇報導將這些C開頭字眼使用得太過火了,形容你們是「互聯的、不斷交流的、以內容為中心、以群體為導向、總是點擊滑鼠」。它接著說,正因如此,你們將「改變我們已知的世界」。

 

當然,所有渲染你們聯繫程度的報導也引發了相反論調,認為事實上你們這一代正逐漸遠離一些重要的事物,相關論調大致如下:你們不再花時間與朋友相處,而將時間花在接收好友申請;你們不再享用佳餚,而是替它拍照,然後立刻上傳臉書與朋友分享。但我希望你們別理會那些憤世嫉俗者,他們說科技正抹殺你們對現實世界的體驗。請別因任何人的話語而自認膚淺,只因為你喜歡定期更新狀態。

 

說科技將使你失去現實聯繫的人是錯誤的,但說科技將使你自動產生聯繫的人也是錯誤的。科技只是一項工具,一項強大的工具,但只是工具而已,人際間的深刻聯繫則大不相同。它並非工具,並非達成目的之手段,而是目的。它是有意義生活的目的,它會激發愛、慷慨、人性等最美好的行為。

 

在著名演講《在大變革中保持清醒》中,馬丁.路德.金說:「藉由人類聰慧的科技天賦,我們使世界成為鄰里,但我們尚未擁有使世界如同手足的道德承諾。」50年後看來,我認為金博士當時將世界視為鄰里似乎為時過早。當時美國人將其他大陸統稱為第三世界,彷彿將地球另一端的人們定義為與我們不同的生物。但隨著通訊革命發展,你們的世界確實能成為鄰里,因此金博士提及的道德承諾仰賴於你們實踐。

 

使世界如同手足意味著什麼?這對你們個人甚至整屆畢業生來說似乎太過苛求。我敢肯定,晚些時候當某人問你這個惱人的問題:「你畢業後打算做什麼?」我懷疑有人會說:「我要擔負起使世界如同手足的道德承諾。」但你可改變看待他人的方式,你可選擇先觀察他們的人性,從他們與你相同的大處著眼,而非不同於你的枝微末節。這不僅是關懷他人,我假設你們已做到這一點。更困難的是將所有人,包括那些-尤其是那些和你擁有截然不同生活的人-真正視為有血有肉的人類。他們與你擁有相同的需要、需求及渴望。但如果你確實相信世上70億人口在精神上都與你平等,你將採取行動,使世界對每個人來說更加平等。

 

保羅.法默,我最欽佩的杜克校友,我想在座大多數人都聽過。他是醫生及全球健康革新者,他於波士頓、海地、盧安達之間來回奔波,現在他正致力於修正或全面改革盧安達的醫療體系。我於2003年初識保羅,我拜訪他位於海地Cange村的診所。這趟旅程最令我印象深刻之處,首先是下車後前往診所的100碼路程竟花了那麼長時間,原因在於保羅向我一一介紹沿途遇見的每個人每一個人。他介紹他們的全名,告訴我他們的家庭狀況、詢問他們的近況。當我們抵達診所,外面有個開滿牽牛花的美麗棚架,我問保羅棚架的事,他說:「喔,那是我自己搭的,搭棚架的原因是,我希望這裡的人和我一樣看見世間的美,我也希望他們在大太陽下等待就診時有遮蔭之處。」

 

隔天,我拜訪海地另一家診所,它位於太子港,設立的目的與保羅相同-提供海地人優質醫療服務-那裡的醫生也因崇高動機來此服務,但我注意到那家診所有某些截然不同之處。醫生將自己視為醫療提供者,將海地人視為醫療接受者。因此儘管擁有高品質醫療診所,患者和醫生之間卻存在諸多不滿。

 

接連兩天拜訪兩家診所的經歷使我明白一些道理。保羅所做的是道德選擇,建立深刻聯繫,進行這項艱鉅的任務,瞭解愛是治療的一部分。保羅和他的團隊所做的點點滴滴源於一個偉大的理念,那就是顧及所有人的尊嚴。

 

當然,並非每個人都得成為保羅.法默,並非每個人都得將畢生奉獻於消弭貧困,但即使你不具備聖人資格,不代表你無法與他人產生深刻聯繫,或你建立的聯繫無法對世界造成影響。在我看來,這正是科技發揮作用之處。如果你進行道德選擇,與他人建立深刻聯繫,那麼電腦、手機和網路將使行動變得更加容易。

 

非洲有7億個手機用戶,當我前往肯亞奈洛比時,我拜訪當地一座大貧民窟-基貝拉-有些人認為它是非洲最大的貧民窟。那是去年的事。你們知道我看見什麼嗎?難以置信的創意。我看見一個小攤上放了數百隻手機,年輕創業者為民眾提供手機充電服務。當人們拿回手機後,你知道他們做什麼嗎?發簡訊。顯然他們最喜愛的通訊方式正是你們最喜愛的通訊方式,這使你得以直接與數百萬人聯繫。

 

在網路上,你可閱讀其他人閱讀的文章,你們可聆聽相同的音樂,你們可觀看相同的電視節目,你們可融入彼此的生活、學習彼此的語言、學習彼此的食譜,甚至烹調相同的食物,然後拍照傳給世界各地的朋友,只要你願意。

 

我並非鼓勵你們明天醒來後隨機在Skype上與奈洛比某個人展開聯繫,忽略某些來自奈及利亞、說能讓你發大財的電子郵件或許是明智之舉。(笑聲)但生命過程中,我保證你將擁有許多機會,使用科技拓展你的世界,認識不同類型的人,與更多萍水相逢者保持聯繫。這些聯繫本身具有重要意義,但我得承認,我不希望你們僅為了聯繫而聯繫。我希望你們建立聯繫,因為我相信它能激勵你做一些事,採取行動,使世界有所不同。抽象的人性無法如同與他人接觸般激勵你,貧困的認知無法激勵你採取行動,但接觸貧困者將促使你採取行動。

 

當我與丈夫共同創立基金會時,我對全球健康情況不甚瞭解。我們埋首於數據中,我們拜訪了許多學者,我們閱讀了所有發病率與死亡率的相關資料。但2001年,我想進行首次基金會學習之旅,親眼看看統計資料背後的人們。我前往印度和泰國,當我抵達喜馬拉雅山腳下時,拜訪了一座村莊。我幾乎整天都在村莊裡參觀,花許多時間與村民們相處。這天結束後,一位婦女邀請我到她家作客,我得承認我無法想像接下來會發生什麼事。我們走進她的小屋,她從廚房牆壁的釘子上取下兩張草坪躺椅,是那種鋁製折疊椅,你知道,有著令人發癢的椅面,你或許在Krzyzewskiville草坪上排隊時坐過。她抬出躺椅,放在後門廊上,她想在此仰望喜馬拉雅山。這讓我想起在達拉斯的老家,家人們也習慣使用同樣的躺椅,晚上我們坐在後院裡仰望星空。這位婦女想和我聊聊我的家庭生活,是什麼促使我來到這裡;她想告訴我她對孩子及家人的夢想和希望。

 

離開這座村莊、返家途中,我意識到她和我最大的差異並非在於夢想,而在於實現夢想對她來說多麼困難。有些人認為比爾和我太富有,無法與窮人建立真正聯繫,即使我們擁有良好意圖。但我想告訴你們,富有和貧窮這些字眼無法定義我們的本質,無法定義我們身為人類的存在。以這種方式來看,宇宙就像電腦編碼,屬於二進位制。一方面是生命,另一方面是其他一切事物,其中有0也有1。我是1,你是1,我喜馬拉雅山的朋友她也是1。

 

馬丁.路德.金並非程式設計師,因此他將這個概念稱為手足之情。他希望大學生實現情同手足的理想。金博士當時認為世界已縮小到極限-借用他的說法:我們已「縮短了距離和時間。」因此人們仍無法以手足相待的事實在他看來是道德上的失敗。我的看法稍有不同。我認為我們終究創造出將世界轉變成鄰里的科技工具,這給了你們實踐道德的絕佳機會。你可照亮連接70億人的網路,藉由持久、積極的人際關係。

 

過去幾年,你們在世上最棒的大學就讀,獲得適用於未來人生的知識和技能,無論你選擇做什麼。因此你打算怎麼做?我希望你們使用科技工具,進行你心中早已決定的事,建立聯繫,打造一個情同手足的世界。我等不及看你們大展身手了,恭喜。(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talkAbout this talk
Philanthropist Melinda Gates urged graduates of her alma mater, Duke University, to embrace how connected the millennial generation is and use those connections to do good in the world.
 
About Melinda Gates
Melinda French Gates (born Melinda Ann French; August 15, 1964) is an American businesswoman, philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She is the wife of Bill Gates, whom she met while working at Microsoft, where she was project manager for Microsoft Bob, Microsoft Encarta and Expedia.
 
About the transcript
President Brodhead, Trustees, members of the Duke University Community, thank you for inviting me to come back to my alma mater for this important occasion. I am grateful for the honorary degree, and moved by the opportunity to address the graduating seniors.

To the Class of 2013: Let me start by saying congratulations ...

... and by reminding you to thank your mothers and wish them a happy Mothers' Day ...

... and by admitting that I'm still bitter about the Louisville game.

I was a student here in 1986 when Coach K took the team to the finals for the first time. We lost to Louisville then, too, so you and I share that particular agony.

However, you had the good fortune to be here on campus when Duke won its fourth national championship.

I never got to see us cut down the nets, but I did see us beat UNC, in Chapel Hill, when Michael Jordan was the star of the team.

The fact that Michael Jordan recently turned 50 years old tells you how long it's been since I was a student.

No matter how much time passes, though, I always feel connected to Duke. I love visiting my favorite landmarks, especially the Duke Gardens, where I used to go when I was stressed out before exams and needed to clear my head. I went yesterday, because I wanted to make sure I was centered before giving this speech.

There's also my feeling of deep connection to the community my classmates created during our four years, and to the lifelong friends I made here -- in short, to the people. I doubt there is a word that captures the combination of experiences and places and people that we summarize under the label "Duke." The best one I can think of is "connected." And this is a word I'd like to talk about for a few minutes on your Commencement Day.

In August, 1982, I left my home in Dallas, Texas, to come here to Durham. To mark this rite of passage, my parents gave me a terrific present: the cutting-edge Olympus B12 portable typewriter, with a carrying case included. One of its best features was how light it was: Amazingly, the whole bundle weighed just 12 pounds!

It was during my time at Duke that the personal computer displaced the typewriter as the technology of choice on campus. Those of us in the computer science department actually resented the change. There were so few computers available, and all of a sudden the humanities majors were hogging our machines to write their papers.

We had to do our programming in the middle of the night, usually in the creepy basement of the old biological science building. We'd set up contests -- who programmed the fastest or made the fewest mistakes -- kind of like a prehistoric hack-a-thon. The punishment for the losers was a trip to the biology lab at the end of the hall, where they had to touch the scariest mutant frog specimens.

 

CONNECTION, AN INTRODUCTION

The personal computer -- and later, after I'd graduated and taken a job at Microsoft, the Internet -- started a communications revolution. My kids are a few years younger than you, but raising them has proved to me that the way you communicate is the single biggest difference between you now and me a generation ago.

One popular way of describing this aspect of your lives is to say that you're "connected." Some pundits have even started to refer to you as Generation C. One recent report overdid the c-thing by saying you are "connected, communicating, content-centric, community-oriented, always clicking." It went on to say that, for these reasons alone, you will "transform the world as we know it."

Of course, all the hype about how connected you are has contributed to a counter-narrative -- that, in fact, your generation is increasingly disconnected from the things that matter. The arguments go something like this: Instead of spending time with friends, you spend it alone, collecting friend requests. Rather than savoring your food, you take pictures of it and post them on Facebook.

I want to encourage you to reject the cynics who say technology is flattening your experience of the world. Please don't let anyone make you believe you are somehow shallow because you like to update your status on a regular basis.

The people who say technology has disconnected you from others are wrong. So are the people who say technology automatically connects you to others. Technology is just a tool. It's a powerful tool, but it's just a tool. Deep human connection is very different. It's not a tool. It's not a means to an end. It is the end -- the purpose and the result of a meaningful life -- and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity.

In his famous speech "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood."

With 50 years of hindsight, I think it's fair to say Dr. King was premature in calling the world a neighborhood. Back then, Americans lumped whole continents into something they referred to as the Third World, as if the people on the other side of the planet were an undifferentiated mass whose defining feature was that they were not like us.

But as a result of the ongoing communications revolution, your world really can be a neighborhood. So the ethical commitment Dr. King spoke of is yours to live up to.

What does it mean to make of this world a brotherhood and a sisterhood? That probably sounds like a lot to ask of you as individuals, or even as a graduating class. I'm pretty sure none of you will respond to the annoying question "What are you going to do after graduation?" by saying "I plan to have the ethical commitment to make of this world a brotherhood."

But you can change the way you think about other people. You can choose to see their humanity first -- the one big thing that makes them the same as you, instead of the many things that make them different from you.

It is not just a matter of caring about people. I assume you already do that. It's much harder to see all people, including people whose experiences are very different from yours, as three-dimensional human beings who want and need the same things you do. But if you can really believe that all 7 billion people on the planet are equal to you in spirit, then you will take action to make the world more equal for everyone.

 

PAUL FARMER, TESTAMENT TO CONNECTION

Paul Farmer, the Duke graduate I admire most, is a testament to the deep human connection I'm talking about. As many of you know, Paul, who's here today, is a doctor and global health innovator. For years, he travelled back and forth from Boston, where he is a professor of medicine, to Haiti, where he ran a health clinic giving the highest quality care to the poorest people in the world. Now, he lives mostly in Rwanda, where he's working on changing the country's entire health care system.

I first met Paul in 2003, when I went to see him in Haiti. It took us forever to walk the 100 yards from our vehicle to the clinic because he introduced me to every single person we met along the way. I am not exaggerating. Every single person.

As we moved along, he introduced each person to me by first and last name, wished their families well, and asked for an update about their lives. He hugged people when he greeted them and looked them in the eyes throughout each conversation. If you believe love plays a role in healing, there was healing happening at every step of that journey.

When we finally reached the waiting area outside the clinic, I saw a lovely garden with a canopy of flowering vines. Paul told me he built it himself, for two reasons. First, he said, it gets hot, and he wants to his patients to be cool in the shade while they wait. Second, he wants them to see what he sees, the beauty of the world, before they have to go into the clinic for treatment.

The next day, I visited a different clinic in Haiti. The clinic was there for the same reason as Paul's -- to provide poor people with the medical care they desperately need but cannot afford. The doctors worked there for all the right reasons. But I noticed that the patients were waiting outside in the scorching sun. Inside, it felt like the doctors considered themselves health providers, and the patients were recipients. There was no sense, as there was in Paul's clinic, of an equal partnership with the community.

Experiencing those two clinics one right after the other showed me that Paul made a moral choice to do the hard work of deep connection. He took the time to do the little things: provide shade, remember surnames, and make eye contact. These small acts were born of a big idea -- the boundless dignity of all people.



TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTION

Of course, not everybody is Paul Farmer. Not everybody is going to dedicate their whole life to connecting with the poorest people in the world. But just because you don't qualify for sainthood doesn't mean you can't form deep human connections -- or that your connections can't make a difference in the world.

That's where technology comes in. If you make the moral choice to connect deeply to others, then your computer, your phone, and your tablet make it so much easier to do.

Today, there are 700 million cell phone subscribers in Africa. I travelled to Kenya recently and spent a day in Kibera, which many people consider the largest slum in Africa. One image that sticks with me is all the cell phones piled up in a small kiosk where locals paid to recharge their batteries. Most people in Kibera don't have electricity -- even the cell phone charging businesses steal it from the city's power grid -- but everywhere I looked young people were on their phones. And guess what they were doing? Exactly what you do ... they were texting.

You and they can share your stories directly with each other, with literally billions of people, because you're all using the same technology.

On the Internet, you can also immerse yourselves in one another's lives -- read what the other is reading, listen to what the other is listening to, and watch what the other is watching. You can learn their language, and they can learn yours. You can find out how to cook one another's recipes. And then you can photograph the final product and post it on Facebook!

Nobody expects you to wake up tomorrow and randomly Skype someone in Nairobi. And sometimes it's wise to ignore emails from strangers in Nigeria offering to split a large fortune with you!

But over the course of your lives, I promise you will have many opportunities to use technology to make your world bigger: to meet more different kinds of people, and to keep in touch with more of the people you meet.

These connections are important by themselves, but the truth is, I don't want you to connect for connection's sake alone. I want you to connect because I believe it will inspire you to do something, to make a difference in the world. Humanity in the abstract will never inspire you in the same way as human beings you meet. Poverty is not going to motivate you. But people will motivate you.

 

YOUR FIRST CONNECTION

When my husband Bill and I started our foundation, we didn't know much about global health at all. I read the academic literature and talked to experts in the field. But most of what I learned was expressed in morbidity and mortality rates, not in flesh and blood. So in 2001, I took my first foundation learning trip, to India and Thailand, to meet with people and find out what their lives were really like behind the veil of statistics.

One of my first visits was to a tiny, impoverished village in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. I spent most of my day talking to women about the issues we were working on at the foundation: women and children's health, infectious diseases, and sanitation.

Late in the afternoon, one of the women who'd been showing me around invited me into her home. We went inside and she produced two lawn chairs that were hanging from a nail in her kitchen. They were the aluminum folding kind with the itchy fabric seat you've sat on a million times, quite possibly when you were tenting in Krzyzewskiville. When I was growing up in Dallas, we had the same chairs. On Sunday nights in the summer, my parents and my siblings and I used to set them up on our back patio and gaze up into the sky together as a family.

It turned out my host wanted to show me her stunning view of the Himalayas, and as we sat and contemplated the planet's highest peaks, we talked about our children and the future. Our aspirations were basically the same. We wanted our children to fulfill their potential. We wanted the love and respect of family and friends. We wanted meaningful work. The biggest difference between us was not what we dreamt about, but how hard it was for her to make her dreams come true.

Some people assume that Bill and I are too rich to make a connection with someone who's poor, even if our intentions are good. But adjectives like rich and poor don't define who any of us truly are as human beings. And they don't make any one individual less human than the next. The universe is like computer code in that way. Binary. There is life, and there is everything else. Zeroes and ones. I'm a one. You're a one. My friend in the Himalayas is a one.

Martin Luther King was not a computer programmer, so he called this concept a brotherhood. His hope was that college students could bring a brotherhood into being. Dr. King thought the world had shrunk as much as it was going to shrink -- in his words, we'd "dwarfed distance and placed time in chains." So the fact that people still didn't treat each other like brothers and sisters was, to him, an ethical failure.

I take a slightly different view. I believe we are finally creating the scientific and technological tools to turn the world into a neighborhood. And that gives you an amazing ethical opportunity no one has ever had before.

You can light up a network of 7 billion people with long-lasting and highly motivating human connections.

You have spent four years at one of the world's finest universities acquiring the knowledge and skills to succeed at everything you do.

So what will you do?

I hope you will use to the tool of technology to do what you already had it in your heart to do ... To connect ... To make of this world a brotherhood ... and a sisterhood ...

I can't wait to see what it looks like when you do.

Congratulations again.
Philanthropist Melinda Gates urged graduates of her alma mater, Duke University, to embrace how connected the millennial generation is and use those connections to do good in the world.
 
About Melinda Gates
Melinda French Gates (born Melinda Ann French; August 15, 1964) is an American businesswoman, philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She is the wife of Bill Gates, whom she met while working at Microsoft, where she was project manager for Microsoft Bob, Microsoft Encarta and Expedia.
 
About the transcript
President Brodhead, Trustees, members of the Duke University Community, thank you for inviting me to come back to my alma mater for this important occasion. I am grateful for the honorary degree, and moved by the opportunity to address the graduating seniors.

To the Class of 2013: Let me start by saying congratulations ...

... and by reminding you to thank your mothers and wish them a happy Mothers' Day ...

... and by admitting that I'm still bitter about the Louisville game.

I was a student here in 1986 when Coach K took the team to the finals for the first time. We lost to Louisville then, too, so you and I share that particular agony.

However, you had the good fortune to be here on campus when Duke won its fourth national championship.

I never got to see us cut down the nets, but I did see us beat UNC, in Chapel Hill, when Michael Jordan was the star of the team.

The fact that Michael Jordan recently turned 50 years old tells you how long it's been since I was a student.

No matter how much time passes, though, I always feel connected to Duke. I love visiting my favorite landmarks, especially the Duke Gardens, where I used to go when I was stressed out before exams and needed to clear my head. I went yesterday, because I wanted to make sure I was centered before giving this speech.

There's also my feeling of deep connection to the community my classmates created during our four years, and to the lifelong friends I made here -- in short, to the people. I doubt there is a word that captures the combination of experiences and places and people that we summarize under the label "Duke." The best one I can think of is "connected." And this is a word I'd like to talk about for a few minutes on your Commencement Day.

In August, 1982, I left my home in Dallas, Texas, to come here to Durham. To mark this rite of passage, my parents gave me a terrific present: the cutting-edge Olympus B12 portable typewriter, with a carrying case included. One of its best features was how light it was: Amazingly, the whole bundle weighed just 12 pounds!

It was during my time at Duke that the personal computer displaced the typewriter as the technology of choice on campus. Those of us in the computer science department actually resented the change. There were so few computers available, and all of a sudden the humanities majors were hogging our machines to write their papers.

We had to do our programming in the middle of the night, usually in the creepy basement of the old biological science building. We'd set up contests -- who programmed the fastest or made the fewest mistakes -- kind of like a prehistoric hack-a-thon. The punishment for the losers was a trip to the biology lab at the end of the hall, where they had to touch the scariest mutant frog specimens.

 

CONNECTION, AN INTRODUCTION

The personal computer -- and later, after I'd graduated and taken a job at Microsoft, the Internet -- started a communications revolution. My kids are a few years younger than you, but raising them has proved to me that the way you communicate is the single biggest difference between you now and me a generation ago.

One popular way of describing this aspect of your lives is to say that you're "connected." Some pundits have even started to refer to you as Generation C. One recent report overdid the c-thing by saying you are "connected, communicating, content-centric, community-oriented, always clicking." It went on to say that, for these reasons alone, you will "transform the world as we know it."

Of course, all the hype about how connected you are has contributed to a counter-narrative -- that, in fact, your generation is increasingly disconnected from the things that matter. The arguments go something like this: Instead of spending time with friends, you spend it alone, collecting friend requests. Rather than savoring your food, you take pictures of it and post them on Facebook.

I want to encourage you to reject the cynics who say technology is flattening your experience of the world. Please don't let anyone make you believe you are somehow shallow because you like to update your status on a regular basis.

The people who say technology has disconnected you from others are wrong. So are the people who say technology automatically connects you to others. Technology is just a tool. It's a powerful tool, but it's just a tool. Deep human connection is very different. It's not a tool. It's not a means to an end. It is the end -- the purpose and the result of a meaningful life -- and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity.

In his famous speech "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood."

With 50 years of hindsight, I think it's fair to say Dr. King was premature in calling the world a neighborhood. Back then, Americans lumped whole continents into something they referred to as the Third World, as if the people on the other side of the planet were an undifferentiated mass whose defining feature was that they were not like us.

But as a result of the ongoing communications revolution, your world really can be a neighborhood. So the ethical commitment Dr. King spoke of is yours to live up to.

What does it mean to make of this world a brotherhood and a sisterhood? That probably sounds like a lot to ask of you as individuals, or even as a graduating class. I'm pretty sure none of you will respond to the annoying question "What are you going to do after graduation?" by saying "I plan to have the ethical commitment to make of this world a brotherhood."

But you can change the way you think about other people. You can choose to see their humanity first -- the one big thing that makes them the same as you, instead of the many things that make them different from you.

It is not just a matter of caring about people. I assume you already do that. It's much harder to see all people, including people whose experiences are very different from yours, as three-dimensional human beings who want and need the same things you do. But if you can really believe that all 7 billion people on the planet are equal to you in spirit, then you will take action to make the world more equal for everyone.

 

PAUL FARMER, TESTAMENT TO CONNECTION

Paul Farmer, the Duke graduate I admire most, is a testament to the deep human connection I'm talking about. As many of you know, Paul, who's here today, is a doctor and global health innovator. For years, he travelled back and forth from Boston, where he is a professor of medicine, to Haiti, where he ran a health clinic giving the highest quality care to the poorest people in the world. Now, he lives mostly in Rwanda, where he's working on changing the country's entire health care system.

I first met Paul in 2003, when I went to see him in Haiti. It took us forever to walk the 100 yards from our vehicle to the clinic because he introduced me to every single person we met along the way. I am not exaggerating. Every single person.

As we moved along, he introduced each person to me by first and last name, wished their families well, and asked for an update about their lives. He hugged people when he greeted them and looked them in the eyes throughout each conversation. If you believe love plays a role in healing, there was healing happening at every step of that journey.

When we finally reached the waiting area outside the clinic, I saw a lovely garden with a canopy of flowering vines. Paul told me he built it himself, for two reasons. First, he said, it gets hot, and he wants to his patients to be cool in the shade while they wait. Second, he wants them to see what he sees, the beauty of the world, before they have to go into the clinic for treatment.

The next day, I visited a different clinic in Haiti. The clinic was there for the same reason as Paul's -- to provide poor people with the medical care they desperately need but cannot afford. The doctors worked there for all the right reasons. But I noticed that the patients were waiting outside in the scorching sun. Inside, it felt like the doctors considered themselves health providers, and the patients were recipients. There was no sense, as there was in Paul's clinic, of an equal partnership with the community.

Experiencing those two clinics one right after the other showed me that Paul made a moral choice to do the hard work of deep connection. He took the time to do the little things: provide shade, remember surnames, and make eye contact. These small acts were born of a big idea -- the boundless dignity of all people.



TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTION

Of course, not everybody is Paul Farmer. Not everybody is going to dedicate their whole life to connecting with the poorest people in the world. But just because you don't qualify for sainthood doesn't mean you can't form deep human connections -- or that your connections can't make a difference in the world.

That's where technology comes in. If you make the moral choice to connect deeply to others, then your computer, your phone, and your tablet make it so much easier to do.

Today, there are 700 million cell phone subscribers in Africa. I travelled to Kenya recently and spent a day in Kibera, which many people consider the largest slum in Africa. One image that sticks with me is all the cell phones piled up in a small kiosk where locals paid to recharge their batteries. Most people in Kibera don't have electricity -- even the cell phone charging businesses steal it from the city's power grid -- but everywhere I looked young people were on their phones. And guess what they were doing? Exactly what you do ... they were texting.

You and they can share your stories directly with each other, with literally billions of people, because you're all using the same technology.

On the Internet, you can also immerse yourselves in one another's lives -- read what the other is reading, listen to what the other is listening to, and watch what the other is watching. You can learn their language, and they can learn yours. You can find out how to cook one another's recipes. And then you can photograph the final product and post it on Facebook!

Nobody expects you to wake up tomorrow and randomly Skype someone in Nairobi. And sometimes it's wise to ignore emails from strangers in Nigeria offering to split a large fortune with you!

But over the course of your lives, I promise you will have many opportunities to use technology to make your world bigger: to meet more different kinds of people, and to keep in touch with more of the people you meet.

These connections are important by themselves, but the truth is, I don't want you to connect for connection's sake alone. I want you to connect because I believe it will inspire you to do something, to make a difference in the world. Humanity in the abstract will never inspire you in the same way as human beings you meet. Poverty is not going to motivate you. But people will motivate you.

 

YOUR FIRST CONNECTION

When my husband Bill and I started our foundation, we didn't know much about global health at all. I read the academic literature and talked to experts in the field. But most of what I learned was expressed in morbidity and mortality rates, not in flesh and blood. So in 2001, I took my first foundation learning trip, to India and Thailand, to meet with people and find out what their lives were really like behind the veil of statistics.

One of my first visits was to a tiny, impoverished village in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. I spent most of my day talking to women about the issues we were working on at the foundation: women and children's health, infectious diseases, and sanitation.

Late in the afternoon, one of the women who'd been showing me around invited me into her home. We went inside and she produced two lawn chairs that were hanging from a nail in her kitchen. They were the aluminum folding kind with the itchy fabric seat you've sat on a million times, quite possibly when you were tenting in Krzyzewskiville. When I was growing up in Dallas, we had the same chairs. On Sunday nights in the summer, my parents and my siblings and I used to set them up on our back patio and gaze up into the sky together as a family.

It turned out my host wanted to show me her stunning view of the Himalayas, and as we sat and contemplated the planet's highest peaks, we talked about our children and the future. Our aspirations were basically the same. We wanted our children to fulfill their potential. We wanted the love and respect of family and friends. We wanted meaningful work. The biggest difference between us was not what we dreamt about, but how hard it was for her to make her dreams come true.

Some people assume that Bill and I are too rich to make a connection with someone who's poor, even if our intentions are good. But adjectives like rich and poor don't define who any of us truly are as human beings. And they don't make any one individual less human than the next. The universe is like computer code in that way. Binary. There is life, and there is everything else. Zeroes and ones. I'm a one. You're a one. My friend in the Himalayas is a one.

Martin Luther King was not a computer programmer, so he called this concept a brotherhood. His hope was that college students could bring a brotherhood into being. Dr. King thought the world had shrunk as much as it was going to shrink -- in his words, we'd "dwarfed distance and placed time in chains." So the fact that people still didn't treat each other like brothers and sisters was, to him, an ethical failure.

I take a slightly different view. I believe we are finally creating the scientific and technological tools to turn the world into a neighborhood. And that gives you an amazing ethical opportunity no one has ever had before.

You can light up a network of 7 billion people with long-lasting and highly motivating human connections.

You have spent four years at one of the world's finest universities acquiring the knowledge and skills to succeed at everything you do.

So what will you do?

I hope you will use to the tool of technology to do what you already had it in your heart to do ... To connect ... To make of this world a brotherhood ... and a sisterhood ...

I can't wait to see what it looks like when you do.

Congratulations again.


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