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薩曼莎.鮑爾為2015年賓州大學畢業生演講

Samantha Power Gives the 2015 Commencement Address at Penn

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:薩曼莎.鮑爾(Samantha Power)

 

2015年5月18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nytlive.nytimes.com

美國駐聯合國大使薩曼莎.鮑爾在演講中引用葉慈、莎士比亞和班傑明.富蘭克林的話,承認她「尚在受訓還沒獲得官僚的黑帶」,並表示有四種方法能增加你改變世界的可能性:「假裝能做到、對情況有所瞭解、說服他人共襄盛舉、人性化你的目標。」

 

關於薩曼莎.鮑爾(來源wikipedia

薩曼莎.鮑爾(生於1970年9月21日)為愛爾蘭出生的美國學者、作家及外交官,目前擔任美國駐聯合國代表。

 

薩曼莎.鮑爾為2015年賓州大學畢業生演講

 

謝謝Price教務長、Gutmann校長、校董會委員、全體教職員、各位校友、嘉賓和家屬,以及2015年畢業生。聽起來很棒,不是嗎?很榮幸與大家共度這個美好的日子。畢業生,你們做到了!

 

你的家人和親屬,那些從你出生就支持你的人在這裡為你歡呼,有些人甚至在樓上的非貴賓席。你被此生最好的朋友包圍,他們將在往後數十年默默支持你。我想起威廉.巴特勒.葉慈的詩,結尾相當優美:「想想人的榮耀多半始於何處、終於何處,我的榮耀就是擁有這樣的朋友。」以許多方面來說,這些羈絆是一項成就,如同你們將裱框的文憑一樣偉大。我最偉大的成就之一今天跟我一起站在台上,我嫁給你們法學院的畢業演講嘉賓Cass Sunstein教授,我最好的朋友。(掌聲)Cass昨天的畢業演講是關於《星際大戰》和法律,我們6歲的-後面某位絕地武士-我們6歲的Declan堅稱他父親的演講比我的演講好多了,但我希望得到6歲以上聽眾的支持。Cass或許是世上著作被引用最多的法學教授,以及「推力」理論共同發明者,但在家裡他是二話不說爬上屋頂或跳進池塘的人-無論姿勢多麼笨拙-撿回我們對大聯盟充滿興趣的兒子Declan暴投的威浮球。

 

讓我們認清事實,在座任何畢業生或講台上任何人今天都無法來到這裡,如果我們的父母、繼父母、老師或指導者這些年來不曾重視對我們來說重要的事。因此畢業生,給父母和親人一個熱烈的掌聲。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)現在,回顧你來到這個階段所做的一切,你應該感到背後有很多人的幫助。你將需要這些幫助,因為,2015年畢業生,賓州大學圍牆外的世界仍有許多有待改進之處,這是「情況真的一團糟」的外交用語。

 

暴力極端主義團體如ISIL正在處決平民,並將年輕女孩像牛隻一樣在市場販賣;俄羅斯正使用武力占領鄰國領土;成千上萬的移民-多半是為了逃離非洲和中東的殘酷戰爭-在穿越地中海途中溺斃;成千上萬的羅興亞人及孟加拉人正逃離人權迫害及亞洲的經濟不景氣。這些移民透過人蛇集團夾帶或偷渡,蛇頭拿了他們的錢,卻將他們遺棄在海上,感覺就像莎士比亞在《暴風雨》中所寫:「地獄空無一物,惡魔全在這裡。」即使擁有在賓州大學所學的知識,踏入如今這樣的世界依然會令你不知所措、恐懼、甚至嚇得屁滾尿流。你如何著手處理如此重大的問題以及如此嚴重的不公正?你如何使這個殘破不堪的世界變得稍微好一些?

 

二十多年前,當我坐在你們現在所坐的位置時,這些問題已經存在。我們這一代面臨的挑戰似乎也遠超出我們的能力範圍,並非一位文科研究生邁著堅定的步伐向軍閥或獨裁者抗議,他們就會罷手。雖然我知道歷史上有人曾經-或現在依然能改變世界。想像我能成為其中一分子似乎是傲慢、甚至自以為是的想法。如果以前有人告訴我:我,一位曾在匹茲堡和亞特蘭大就讀公立學校的愛爾蘭移民,不僅會成為美國駐聯合國大使,還會受邀至賓州大學畢業典禮演講,我會懷疑你是否花太多時間在Smokes喝酒。所以你們真的有,對吧?我是傑出的運動員、有益的朋友和相當優秀的學生,但成長過程中我為人所知的特點不包括耐心。這是容忍官僚主義的必要條件,不包括外交能力。這是進行外交的普遍特質,甚至不包括理想主義。這對公職來說是絕對必要的條件。然而,今天站在你們面前的我已為美國政府服務六年半,我得承認我仍在挑戰官僚機構的黑帶資格,並得到一個結論:擔任外交官有點高估我的能力。但經過23年「現實世界」的歷練,尤其是任職政府機構之後,我變得前所未有的理想化,完全相信個人能為促進人類尊嚴做出實際貢獻,使全球和我國的情況變得稍微好一些。(掌聲)

 

好,我不知道現場有多少未來的公務員或外交官。有幾個?很好,但願不只是那些在Smokes酗酒的人。但我知道這所令人驚嘆的學校被視為服務精神的發源地。1749年,當班傑明.富蘭克林在費城這裡籌備一所大學時,他的願景不同於當時少數殖民地院校。富蘭克林寫道:「所有學習的終極目標就是兼具為人類、祖國、朋友和家人服務的抱負與才能。」這很重要,我再重複一遍:「兼具為人類、祖國、朋友和家人服務的抱負與才能。」這就是這所卓越學府成立的基礎。有些人或許發現自己已踏上回應富蘭克林呼籲的道路,你或許知道自己兼具有利於服務的「抱負」與「能力」,但有些人或許會質疑自己是否擁有服務社區或國家的能力,更別提服務男性或女性族群。過去數十年,我竭盡所能地尋求足以匹配抱負的能力,在這個過程中我扮演過許多不同角色。我曾經是戰地記者、人權捍衛者、教授、專欄作家、外交官,以及至今最令我膽顫心驚的角色-母親。我從這些經驗中所學到的教訓是:任何值得改變的事都是困難的。但有四種方法-無論何種領域、職業、國家或規模-可以增加使需要你的世界做出實質改變的可能性。

 

第一,這是最基本的一點。如果你想改變世界,從「假裝能做到」開始。前幾代採用不同的說法:「演久成真」,但看看會發生什麼事。如果你-你微小的自我-「假裝能做到」縮小我國貧富公立學校之間的巨大成就差距,也許,如果你著手做這件事,如果你「假裝能做到」,你將發現自己協助輔導街尾那所學校的女孩閱讀或數學課程。看看會發生什麼事,如果你「假裝能對抗」-你確實能-剛果民主共和國氾濫的性暴力,也許你將發現自己成為凌虐熱線的義工,為無人可傾訴的受害者提供安慰。看看會發生什麼事,如果你在同性戀仍被視為犯罪的國家「假裝能促進」LGBT權益,也許你將擔負起說服祖父母或父母的責任,說明為何不該否定與相愛之人結婚的權利。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我敢打賭,如果你問Gutmann校長、Price教務長、Cohen主席、你的教授、你的父母,或今天其他令人欽佩的榮譽學位得主,他們會說他們在令人敬仰的職業生涯中已完成一些「假裝能做到」的事。「假裝能做到」正是我職業生涯嶄露頭角的契機。1990年代,前南斯拉夫大規模暴行的影像令我深受震撼,我決定試著提供幫助,但主修歷史的我有什麼用?我決定-回想起來還蠻可笑的-我為大學校刊報導女排的經驗至少足以讓我嘗試成為一名戰地記者。當我抵達該地區,我之前不曾採訪過難民或維和人員或任何人,真的,除了運動員。但我前往巴爾幹半島,開始觀察周遭的記者。他們似乎知道自己該做什麼,我竭盡所能地模仿他們,同時試著讓自己看起來專業一點。隨著報導經驗逐漸增加,假裝的成分逐漸減少,真實的成分逐漸增加。當我們開始學習新事物時,總會有一個學習曲線。2013年8月,我開始美國駐聯合國大使的工作,幾乎同一時刻,我發現自己面臨相當棘手且危機四伏的談判,對手是俄羅斯,目標在於撤出敘利亞境內的化學武器。這是相當重要的任務,因為暴虐的阿薩德政權意圖將這種武器使用在自己人民身上。在緊鑼密鼓的談判期間,一個星期天早上,我帶兒子Declan到一家小餐館吃早餐。他當時四歲,因為這些沒日沒夜的談判,我沒多少時間陪他。就在這時,歐巴馬總統決定打我的手機。為何老闆總是幹這種事?總統強調這些談判的重要性,他鼓勵我尋找適當的談判平衡點。「不要在跑道上衝過頭,」他說。「但也不要裹足不前。」我說:「明白了,總統先生,我瞭解。」但我才接手這份工作不到一個月!在腦海裡,我想著:「那該死的跑道在哪裡?」(笑聲)(掌聲)但我找到了。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)我在這裡告訴你們:「『假裝能做到』,你就會真的做到。」

 

我的第二項建議,如果你想有所作為,確保你對情況有所瞭解。這麼做的好處是,情況將完全掌控在你手中。你可以試著閱讀比推特限制的140字多的文章,開始瞭解已思考過這些問題的人的想法。你可以向專家求教對這些問題的看法,然後多加閱讀及學習。如果你對國際問題感興趣,你可以學習一門語言,除了你在學校學過的另一門語言。當你認為你對情況已有所瞭解,甚至對可能發生什麼變化已有所想法,跳脫問題原有的框架,探索相關領域,無論是何種領域。在這個領域中,已梳理好的問題變得雜亂,你將有機會進行深入探索,而非廣泛瞭解。回顧我在巴爾幹的歲月,這對早期職業生涯來說似乎是極其狹隘的選擇。我註冊了塞爾維亞-克羅埃西亞語言課程,一種使用範圍有限的語言,即使對我目前的工作來說。我閱讀大量與該地區有關的歷史書籍,據說「歷史太多不需要未來」的地區。我報導對大多數美國人來說似乎太過遙遠的戰爭,儘管我將目光放在世上相當不起眼的地區,藉由深入探索,我近距離接觸到亦適用於巴爾幹半島之外的問題,一些在我往後工作生涯中每天面臨的全球性問題。種族認同、國際正義、人道主義援助、難民回歸、和平維持以及如何改革聯合國。然而,當你身處現實世界,改變世界的理論很快就會遭受挑戰。我舉一個例子:去年秋天,當伊波拉疫情在西非爆發,根據一項可怕的預測估計,幾個月內感染人數將超過一百萬。公共衛生專家認為喪葬儀式為主要的傳播形式,這是因為當地風俗是家屬親自清洗及埋葬死者的屍體,這是處理伊波拉受害者的致命做法,他們的屍體可在死後數日傳播病毒。因此國際社會的解決方案是:將這種嚴重危害健康的訊息傳播出去,並大量增加安全埋葬團隊的人手。問題是:即使已經這麼做,安全埋葬服務中心的電話不曾響起,民眾繼續清洗及埋葬自己的親人,伊波拉病毒不斷蔓延。最後藉由深入傳染區、瞭解相關數據和當地文化,並藉由聆聽,流行病學家和救援人員終於瞭解人們為何不打這個電話。原因在於受害者家屬將「把遺體交給埋葬隊」視為違背信仰的行為,這是在千里之外的聯合國簡報會議中無法瞭解的事,人們只有在現實世界中遇上這個問題才會瞭解。藉由這項認知,一位幾內亞大教長在廣播中告訴人們安全埋葬符合伊斯蘭教義,並敦促全國12,000家清真寺的教長傳播同樣的訊息。藉由一系列類似這樣的自我調整解決方案,伊波拉疫情的死亡人數曲線得以下降,並迅速終止這項危機。現在,每個-(掌聲)如果想做出持續的改變,每個人都需要他人的支持。

 

我的第三項建議:如果你希望有所貢獻,伴隨「假裝能做到」及「對情況有所瞭解」,你必須說服他人加入你努力的目標。為了說服他人,你必須設身處地瞭解對方,這就是阿提克斯.芬奇對偵察員所說的話的意義:「你永遠無法真正瞭解一個人,除非你站在他的立場,感同身受。」宣導的核心在於同理心的實踐,我不是指為了說服而說服,我是指建立能做出有效貢獻的聯盟。很少人像賓州大學創始人一樣擅長此道。1776年10月,70歲的富蘭克林被派往巴黎,試圖贏得法國對美國革命的支持。他立刻著手瞭解法國不同政治群體及他們所重視之事,就法國外交部長而言,他的世界觀以「零和」及現實主義為基礎。富蘭克林起草了一份備忘錄,主張法國支持美國將大幅削弱法國的主要競爭對手-英國。當這份備忘錄引起法國民眾興趣,富蘭克林大肆渲染美國以自由反抗暴政的浪漫理想,他還寫了匿名諷刺文嘲諷敵對的英國媒體,並拉攏菁英分子。他不曾錯過任何晚宴邀請或沙龍聚會,導致另一位美國外交官抱怨:富蘭克林「投入享樂的程度遠勝於擔負相同職責的年輕人」。但這位外交官忽略了一點:富蘭克林是在房間裡工作!戴皮帽出現後的某天,他發現法國人將這個形象視為美國人平凡務實的標誌,富蘭克林開始在所有公眾場合戴皮帽。如果戴皮帽的是加拿大人呢?富蘭克林正在塑造他的品牌。重點不在於富蘭克林的玩世不恭,他是美國獨立理想的真正信徒,他為了爭取美國獨立做了不平凡的犧牲。事實上當他在巴黎四處奔波,他的家鄉費城已被佔領。他的家被洗劫一空,他創辦的大學-你們的大學-成了英國佔領軍的軍營。重點是富蘭克林知道,為了拉攏法國,他必須融入其中。如果他沒有成功-事實上他大獲全勝,贏得所有他接觸過的法國選民支持-美國或許永遠不會贏得獨立戰爭,賓州大學或許仍是英國軍營,這不是很尷尬嗎?富蘭克林成功背後的因素之一,只因為在富蘭克林身上,法國人看見一場原本似乎遙不可及、微不足道的革命活生生地在眼前體現。

 

這引出我最後一項建議:人性化你的目標。別理所當然地認為目標的價值會替你贏得盟友,把它下降到人們可以觸及的程度,這一點在如今這個時期特別具有挑戰性。層出不窮的暴行、不公正、不平等不斷轟炸我們,閃現在我們每天面對的大小螢幕上,藉由每隔幾秒就更新的網頁顯現在我們眼前,帶來最新的壞消息。難怪我們的神經末梢飽受摧殘,我們表達同情的肌肉疲憊不堪。我在聯合國的工作中每天都面臨這個挑戰,即使在聯合國安理會,他們的工作是協助解決衝突,你經常可在外交官閱讀聲明、重複同樣空洞的譴責時感受到其中的冷漠,對於改變當地現狀毫無期待。去年秋天歐巴馬總統用一個簡單的姿勢成功將伊波拉危機人性化。一名利比亞人湯馬斯.鄧肯,他是抵達美國的第一個伊波拉病例。我國一些民眾任由恐懼戰勝人性,有些人呼籲我國政府封鎖邊界,甚至阻止需求迫切的美國護士和醫生自願參與救援工作,儘管專家堅持疫情必須在源頭被遏止。一些領導人,包括一些就在離這裡不遠處的人,強制實施政策,要求隔離每一位從疫區返回的人。就在這種歇斯底里的情緒達到高峰時,你們應該還記得,歐巴馬總統邀請因照顧鄧肯先生而遭受感染的達拉斯護士范妮娜來白宮。當時她剛剛痊癒,當范女士站在白宮橢圓形辦公室,雖然她已經痊癒,卻被污名化,因為所有伊波拉倖存者都是潛在的病毒載體。總統做了一個很簡單的動作:他給了她一個擁抱。不僅美國人看見這個擁抱,全世界都聽說了這個擁抱。一星期後,我在總統要求下前往伊波拉疫情國,人們仍驚訝地談論這個擁抱。那些擊敗病毒、卻被嚇壞的群眾驅逐的受害者感覺美國也擁抱了他們,恐懼的人也減少了恐懼。所謂人性化不僅意味著將壞消息人性化,也包括人性化那些將光明帶到黑暗地帶的人,那些排除萬難、不畏險阻地建立人類尊嚴的人。如今世上有一些比奈及利亞暴力極端主義團體「博科聖地」更邪惡的組織,他們綁架並奴役數千名婦女和女童,強迫年僅七歲的孩子在擁擠的市場中自爆。2014年2月,博科聖地襲擊奈及利亞北部村莊伊格罕,殺害一百多人,綁架人數更多,包括16歲的Binta Ibrahim和她的姐妹。他們被帶到鄰近村莊,Binta認出俘虜中有三個與她同村的孩子:名叫Matthew的兩歲幼兒和兩個四歲孩子-Elija和Maryam。他們與父母分離,無人照顧,因此Binta-提醒一下,她只有16歲-開始照顧他們。某天村莊遭受空襲,博科聖地戰士四處逃逸躲藏,Binta的姐妹決定逃跑,遊說Binta跟她們一起走,但Binta說:「我有三個孩子得照顧,我不能拋棄他們。」於是她留了下來。不久後,博科聖地成員強迫俘虜遷移到樹林中的藏身處,但三個孩子虛弱不堪,無法行走,因此Binta將Matthew和Elija綁在背上,將Maryam綁在腰際,帶著三個孩子開始行走。她就這樣整天步行,日復一日、夜以繼日地步行。她說:「我只能在一步也走不動時稍作休息,體力恢復後繼續前進。」兩天後,他們終於抵達目的地。她救了那些孩子,幾星期前,Binta、Matthew、Elija和Maryam獲救,還有其他700多名俘虜。當記者在難民營找到他們,Binta依然照顧著這些孩子。記者問她為何為這三個孩子冒生命危險,Binta回答:「我愛他們,就像愛自己的孩子。」雙拳緊握、抵在胸前以示強調。Binta是穆斯林,她拯救的三個孩子是基督徒,這讓我瞭解Binta對那些孩子的愛遠勝於排斥博科聖地對伊斯蘭教義的濫用。(掌聲)

 

你也可以在家鄉附近找到光明的來源。大約15年前,賓州大學醫學院教授注意到被送到急診室的拉丁美洲移民逐漸增加,因為一些本來可以預防的慢性疾病或症狀。他們多半沒有身分證明和保險,且無法用英語進行交流。他們擔心尋求醫療幫助會導致他們被驅逐出境,因此賓大醫生決定啟動一項計畫幫助這個弱勢族群,不僅處理急診,也處理他們健康問題的根源。他們稱這項計畫為Puentes de Salud,意思是「健康的橋樑」。他們開始設立免預約診所,每星期看診幾個晚上,有時在加油站後方或教堂地下室。Puentes計畫仰賴賓大學生志願者,以及受過醫療訓練的社區成員或社區護士的幫助。隨著南費城非法移民人數從計畫啟動時的六千人增加至如今的三萬人,Puentes計畫隨之擴展。醫學院學生自願前往診所幫忙,教育學院畢業生協助設計課程,華頓商學院學生開辦金融知識講習班,其他學校的學生也踴躍參與,其中一位是達芙妮.歐文。2009年,達芙妮為了支付布林茅爾學院的學費在當地酒吧打工,她在那裡結交了一群墨西哥洗碗工朋友。他們告訴她,他們的孩子因為英文不好而學業成績落後,因此達芙妮上網搜尋了一下,找到接觸Puentes團隊的方法。最後她與工作人員合作,為西班牙裔移民的孩子建立一個課後計劃,如今這項計畫輔導了數百名南費城的孩子。今天,達芙妮.歐文博士將從賓州大學醫學院畢業。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

身處世上的黑暗地帶很容易就錯過光明的源頭,但環顧四周,光明就在你身邊。思考一下,1990至2010年,全球極端貧困人口-每天生活費不到一美元的族群-減少了七億人。在我最後一次畢業-1999年從法學院畢業那年,美國某個州將LGBT族群民事結合合法化的想法甚至不曾引起重視,事實上那年有36個州通過禁止同性婚姻的法令或憲法修正案。今天,同樣數量的州-36州-已將同性婚姻合法化。如果正義存在,最高法院將很快確認在這片廣大的土地上同性婚姻是憲法權利。(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

2015年畢業生,毫無疑問,你們即將踏入充滿挑戰的世界,但Binta Ibrahims和Puentes計畫讓我們看見,無論在奈及利亞或費城,解決這些大問題的途徑始於微小的努力,始於個人的努力,如同你們這些人。你可以在將三個孩子綁在背部和腰部連續步行兩天的少女身上看見這一點;你可以在注意到生活在陰影中的新鄰居並伸出援手的醫生身上看見這一點。賓大畢業生,你們擁有抱負與能力,足以改變你的社區及周遭的世界,只要你能做到對情況有所瞭解、說服他人共襄盛舉、人性化你的目標。富蘭克林是正確的,他說:「受教育的目的並非在於為自己服務,而是為了社區、國家、世界服務。」這一直是賓州大學肩負的使命,從今天起,這也將成為你的使命。祝好運,2015年畢業生。加油!(歡呼聲)(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this Talk

Samantha Power , U.S. ambassador to the U.N. quoted Yeats, Shakespeare, and Ben Franklin during her address, admitting she’s “still training for a black belt in bureaucracy,” and said there are four ways to improve your odds of changing the world: “Act as if. Know something about something. Bring others along. And humanize your cause.”

About the Speaker

Samantha Power (born September 21, 1970) is an Irish-born American academic, author and diplomat who currently serves as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Transcript

Thank you, Provost Price.

President Gutmann, trustees, faculty, alumni, friends and family, and class of 2015 [Applause] – has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It is an indescribable privilege to share this remarkable day with you.

Graduates, you made it! [Applause] You’ve got your families and loved ones – people who have been in your corner for as long as you have been breathing – here to hail you. Some even up in the cheap seats [Laughter]. You’re surrounded by some of the greatest friends you will ever make – people who will have your backs for decades to come. I’m reminded of the William Butler Yeats poem, which ends beautifully: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends. And say my glory was I had such friends.” In many ways, these bonds are every bit as great an achievement as the diploma you may frame.

One of my greatest achievements is up here on stage with me today. I got to marry your Law School commencement speaker, Professor Cass Sunstein, my best friend [Applause]. Cass’s commencement speech yesterday was about Star Wars and the law, and our six-year-old – I hear some Jedi knights in the back – and our six-year-old Declan insists that his Dad’s speech is way better than mine. But I’m hoping I get the votes in the over-six crowd. Cass may be the most cited law professor in the world and the co-inventor of Nudging, but in my house he’s better known as the man who will climb onto any roof and into any pond – no matter how gross – to retrieve whiffle balls crushed by Declan, our aspiring Major Leaguer.

And let’s be real: none of you graduates – and none of us on stage – would be here today if we also didn’t have a parent, a step-parent, a teacher or a mentor who hadn’t made what mattered to us matter to them through the years. So grads let’s give it up to our parents and our loved ones [Applause].

Now, looking back on all you’ve done to get to this point, you should feel a great wind at your backs. And you’re going to need it. Because, class of 2015, the world outside Penn’s walls leaves a lot to be desired. That is diplomatic speak for: things are really screwed up!

Violent extremist groups like ISIL are executing civilians and selling girls like cattle in markets. Russia is using military force to lop off parts of a neighbor’s territory. Thousands of migrants – most fleeing brutal wars in Africa and the Middle East – are drowning while trying to cross the Mediterranean; thousands more Rohingya and Bangladeshis are fleeing persecution and economic despair in Asia. These migrants have been smuggled or trafficked by people who take their money and then abandon them at sea. It feels, as Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

Even with all that you’ve learned in your time at Penn, heading out into a world that looks like ours can feel overwhelming. Intimidating. Paralyzing, even. Where do you start on problems that seem so big and injustices that run so deep? How do you go about making this broken world even a little less broken?

I had those same questions more than two decades ago when I sat where you are sitting. The challenges that my generation faced also seemed well beyond our reach. And it wasn’t as if warlords or dictators were about to stop in their tracks if they saw a liberal arts graduate striding purposefully toward them [Laughter]. While I knew that individuals had in history – and still could – make a difference, it seemed presumptuous – even pompous – to imagine that I could be part of it, that I could be one of them. And if you had told me that I, an Irish immigrant to this country who went to public schools in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, would not only get to be the United States Ambassador to the UN, but also be invited to speak at Penn’s commencement, I’d have wondered whether you’d been spending far too much time drinking at Smoke’s [Laughter]. So you have, in fact? [Laughter] I was a good athlete, a good friend, and a pretty good student, but growing up, I was never known for my patience (a prerequisite for tolerating bureaucracy), for my ability to be diplomatic (generally a feature of practicing diplomacy), or even for my idealism (an absolute necessity for a career in public service).

And yet here I stand before you, having served in the U.S. government for six-and-a-half years, still training, I’ll admit, for a black belt in bureaucracy, and having concluded that, in diplomacy, being diplomatic is a tad overrated. But after 23 years in the “real world,” and especially, especially, after my time in government, I am more idealistic than I have ever been in my life, utterly convinced that individuals can make a tangible difference in promoting human dignity and in making the world and our communities in this country a little less broken [Applause].

Now, I don’t know how many future public servants or diplomats are out there today. A few? Good. Hopefully not only the ones who were drinking at Smokes [Laughter]. But I know that this miraculous, miraculous institution was conceived as a place to spawn a spirit of service. In 1749, when Benjamin Franklin made the case for a college here in Philadelphia, his vision was distinct from that of the handful of colleges in the colonies at the time.

“The Aim and End of all Learning,” wrote Franklin, was, “an inclination joined with an ability to serve mankind, one’s country, friends and family.” That’s important. Let me repeat, that “an inclination joined with an ability to serve mankind, one’s country, friends and family,” was at the root of the founding of this great institution.

A few of you out there may already see yourselves on the road to answering Franklin’s call. You may know you have both the “inclination” and the “ability” to serve usefully. But others of you may question whether you have what it takes to serve your community or your country, much less mankind or womankind.

I’ve spent the past couple decades trying to find the ability to match the inclination. In the process, I’ve worn a lot of different hats. I’ve been a war reporter and a human rights defender. A professor and a columnist. A diplomat and – by far most thrillingly – a mother. And what I’ve learned from all these experiences is that any change worth making is going to be hard. Period. But there are four ways that – no matter the field or the profession, the country or the scale – you can improve your odds of making a tangible difference in a world that needs you.

First, and this is foundational, if you want to change the world, start by “acting as if.” Prior generations have put this a different way – “Fake it ‘til you make it.” But see what happens if you act as if you – your little self – can narrow the massive achievement gap between our nation’s rich and poor public schools [Applause]; maybe, if you set out to do that, if you “act as if,” you will find yourself helping tutor a girl in reading or math at the school down the block. See what happens if you act as if you can fight the epidemic of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo [Applause]; maybe you will find yourself volunteering at an abuse hotline across town and offering comfort to someone who has no one else to talk to.

See what happens if you act as if you can promote LGBT rights in countries where being gay is still considered a crime [Applause]; maybe you will take it upon yourself to convince a grandparent or parent why nobody should be denied the right to marry the person they love [Applause].

I bet if you ask President Gutmann, Provost Price, Chairman Cohen, your professors, your parents, or the mind-blowing other honorary degree recipients here today, they would say that they had done a bit of “acting as if” in their esteemed careers.

“Acting as if” was how I got started professionally. In the 1990s, I was deeply moved by images of mass atrocities coming out of the former Yugoslavia, and I decided to try to help. But what could I, a history major, do that was useful? I decided – ridiculously in retrospect – that my experience covering women's volleyball for my college newspaper was sufficient for me to at least try to become a war correspondent. When I got over to the region, I'd never before interviewed refugees or peacekeepers or anybody, really, besides athletes. But I moved to the Balkans and began observing the journalists around me who seemed to know what they were doing and I did my best to copy them – all the while trying to look professional. And with each story I reported, this became less of an act and more of a reality.

There’s always a learning curve when one starts something new. In August 2013, I started my job as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Almost immediately, I found myself in some extremely tough, high-wire negotiations with Russia aimed at removing chemical weapons from Syria – a crucial task, given the willingness of the monstrous Assad regime to use such weapons on its own people.

One Sunday morning during the most grueling stretch of the negotiations, I take my son Declan to grab breakfast at a diner. He is four-years-old at the time and I haven’t been able to hang much with him because of these round-the-clock negotiations. And of course, that’s the moment President Obama decides to call me on my cellphone [Laughter]. Why do bosses always do that? [Laughter]

The President stresses the importance of these negotiations, and he urges me to find the sweet spot in my negotiating posture. “Don’t overshoot the runway,” he says. “But don’t undershoot the runway, either.”

I say, “Understood, Mr. President. I’ve got this.” [Laughter] But I’ve been in the job for less than a month! And in my head, I’m thinking, “Where the hell is the runway?” [Laughter] But I found it [Applause]. And I’m here to tell you, “act as if” and you really will figure it out.

My second recommendation – if you want to make change – is for you to make sure you know something about something. The beauty of this is it is completely within your control. You can start by reading more than 140-character-long publications [Laughter] by those who have thought about a problem before you. You can track down experts and pepper them with questions – and then read and learn some more. If you’re interested in international issues, you can learn a language – another one on top of the one you already learned here. And when you believe you know something – and may even have arrived at a theory of how change might come – get out to the place where the problem actually lives. Go to the field – whatever or wherever that field may be. The field is where tidy problems get messy, and where you will have occasion to go deep, not wide.

Take my move to the Balkans back in the day – this seemed like an exceedingly narrow early career choice. I signed up for a class in Serbo-Croatian, a language with limited reach, even today in my current job; I read dense history books on the region (a part of the world that is said to have “so much history it doesn’t need a future”); and I moved to report on wars that seemed far away to most Americans. Even though I focused on an extremely narrow slice of the planet, by going deep I got up-close exposure to issues that had application well beyond the Balkans – issues that all these years later are my daily bread in working on challenges all around the world – ethnic identity, international justice, humanitarian assistance, refugee returns, peacekeeping, how to reform the UN.

One’s theory of change quickly gets challenged, though, when you’re out in the real world. I’ll give you one example. Last fall – when the Ebola outbreak was exploding in West Africa and dire projections estimated that more than a million people could be infected within a few months – public health experts identified burial rituals as a major form of transmission. That’s because local custom is for family members to wash and bury the body of the deceased – a fatal practice when dealing with Ebola victims, whose bodies can transmit the virus for several days after death.

So, the international community’s solution was to get the word out on this acute health hazard and dramatically scale up the number of safe burial teams. The trouble was: even having done that, the phones at the safe burial call centers didn’t really ring, and people continued to bathe and bury their loved ones. Ebola just kept spreading. Finally, though, by getting out to the hotspots and immersing themselves in the data and the culture, and by listening, epidemiologists and aid workers were able to figure out why people were not calling: it turned out families of victims saw handing over the bodies to these burial teams as a breach of faith. Now, that’s the kind of insight one could not get in a UN briefing thousands of miles away – one could only get it by bumping up against the problem in the real world. Armed with this understanding, a Grand Imam in Guinea went on the radio to tell people that safe burials were consistent with Islam, and urged imams of the 12,000 mosques across the country to disseminate the same message. It was a series of adaptive solutions like this one that helped bend the deadly curve of the Ebola outbreak, and will soon help end it [Applause].

Now, every individual needs other individuals by their side if they are to make a lasting difference. My third recommendation if you want to serve – along with “acting as if” and knowing something about something – is that you must persuade people to join you in your efforts.

And, to persuade people, you have to meet people where they are. It’s what Atticus Finch meant when he told Scout, “You never really understand a person…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.

I’m not talking about persuasion for persuasion’s sake; I’m talking about building the coalitions that you need to serve effectively. Few were as skilled at this as Penn’s founder. In October 1776, the 70-year-old Franklin was dispatched to Paris to try to win French support for the American Revolution. He immediately set about learning France’s different constituencies and what mattered to each of them.

For France’s foreign minister, who saw the world in zero-sum terms, realist terms, Franklin drafted a memo arguing how French support for America would greatly weaken France’s arch-rival, Britain. When it came to appealing to the French public, Franklin played up the romantic ideal of America’s struggle for liberty against tyranny. He also penned anonymous satires lampooning his British enemies in the press. And to win over the elite, he never passed up an invitation to a swank dinner party or salon, leading another American diplomat to complain that Franklin was, “more devoted to pleasure than would become even a young man in his station.” But the diplomat missed the point; Franklin was working the room [Laughter].

When he discovered – after wearing a fur hat one day – that the French saw it as a sign of his American down-to-Earth authenticity – Franklin took to wearing it whenever he went out in public. So what if the hat was Canadian [Laughter]? Franklin was working his brand.

The point is not that Franklin was cynical; he was a true believer in the idea of American independence, and he made extraordinary sacrifices in fighting for it. Indeed, when he was in Paris pounding the pavement, his own city of Philadelphia was sacked, his home looted, and the university he founded – your university – turned into a barracks for occupying British troops. The point is that Franklin knew that to win over the French, he had to meet them where they were.

If he had not succeeded – and he succeeded gloriously, winning the support of each key French constituency he targeted – America may well have never won its independence. And Penn might still be a British barracks. Wouldn’t that be awkward? [Laughter]

One factor behind Franklin’s success was simply that he was in Paris. In Franklin, the French saw the living, breathing embodiment of a revolution that otherwise might have seemed far away and insignificant. That brings me to my final recommendation: humanize your cause. Don’t take for granted that the worthiness of your cause will win you allies; bring it down to a scale that people can relate to.

This is particularly challenging in times like ours – in which we are bombarded with an endless stream of atrocities, injustices, and inequalities, flashing across the big and small screens we live in front of, and coming at us through internet pages that refresh every few seconds with just the latest bad news. It is no wonder our nerve endings are battered and our empathy muscles so worn out.

I face this challenge every day in my job at the United Nations. Even at the UN Security Council – whose job it is to help resolve conflicts – you can often sense the detachment with which diplomats read off their statements and recycle the same empty condemnations, with no expectations of changing the facts on the ground.

Last fall, President Obama managed to help humanize the Ebola crisis with a simple gesture. After a Liberian man, Thomas Duncan, arrived in the United States with the first case of Ebola, some people in our country allowed their fears to get the better of them. Some called for our government to seal the borders, and even to prevent desperately-needed American nurses and doctors from volunteering for the relief effort, though the experts were adamant that the epidemic had to be beaten at its source. And some leaders – including several not all that far from here – imposed policies that called for quarantining everyone who had returned from the region.

It was at the peak of that hysteria, which you all remember well, that President Obama invited to the White House Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who had been infected caring for Mr. Duncan, and who had just recovered. As Ms. Pham stood in the Oval Office – free of the disease, but stigmatized, as all Ebola survivors were, as a potential carrier – the President did something very simple: he gave her a hug. It wasn’t only Americans who saw that embrace; it was the hug heard around the world. When, at the President’s request, I traveled to the Ebola-affected countries a week later, people were still marveling about that hug. Victims who had beaten the virus but been cast out by terrified communities felt that America had hugged them too; those who feared, feared less.

Part of humanizing means not only humanizing the bad news, but humanizing those who bring light to the dark places – people who, against all odds, are building that human dignity right back up – no matter the obstacles.

Few groups on today’s planet are more sinister than Boko Haram – the violent extremists in Nigeria who have kidnapped and enslaved thousands of women and girls, and forced a child as young as seven to blow herself up in a crowded marketplace. In February 2014, Boko Haram raided the northern Nigerian village of Izghe, killing more than a hundred people and abducting scores more, including sixteen-year-old Binta Ibrahim and her sisters. They were taken to a neighboring village, where Binta recognized three child captives from her village: a two-year-old named Matthew, and two four-year-olds, Elija and Maryam. Separated from their parents, they had no one to look after them.

So Binta, who – mind you – was just 16, started to take care of them. One day, the village was hit by an air raid, and the Boko Haram fighters fled for cover. Binta’s sisters decided to make a run for it, urging Binta to come with them. But, Binta said, “I had these three kids to care for and I couldn't abandon them.” She stayed.

Not long after, Boko Haram forced the captives to march to a hideout in the forest. But the three kids were so malnourished that they couldn’t walk. So Binta strapped Matthew and Elija to her back, and wrapped Maryam around her waist. And – carrying three children – she began to walk. She trekked for an entire day like that, and then a night; and then another day and another night. She said, “There was nothing to do but rest when I couldn’t take another step, and then press ahead when I had recovered.”

After two days, they finally arrived. She saved those kids’ lives.

A few weeks ago, Binta, Matthew, Elija, and Maryam were rescued, along with more than 700 other captives. When a journalist caught up with them in a refugee camp, where Binta continued to look after these kids, the reporter asked her why she risked her life for those three children. Binta responded, “I love them as if they are my own,” pulling her fists into her chest for emphasis.

Binta is a Muslim. The three kids she saved are Christian. Tell me a more powerful rejection of Boko Haram’s perversion of Islam than Binta’s love for those kids [Applause].

And you can find the sources of light close to home, too. Around 15 years ago, professors from Penn’s medical school noticed a growing number of Latin American immigrants showing up at the emergency room with chronic illnesses or ailments that could have been prevented. Most were undocumented, uninsured, and unable to communicate in English. They feared seeking medical help could get them deported. So the Penn doctors decided to start a program to help this vulnerable community – not just treating the emergencies, but the root causes of their health issues. They called it Puentes de Salud, Bridges of Health [Applause], and they began holding walk-in clinics a few nights a week – sometimes in the back of a gas station or a church basement.

Puentes relied on a consistent stream of student volunteers from Penn, and community members who they trained as promotoras – or community nurses. As the undocumented population in South Philadelphia grew from around 6,000 people when the program started to some 30,000 people today – Puentes grew, too. Med students volunteered in the clinics. Students from the Graduation School of Education helped design curriculums [Applause]. Wharton students gave financial literacy workshops. And students from other schools got involved, too.

One of them was Daphne Owen. In 2009, Daphne was helping pay her way through Bryn Mawr College by working at a local dive bar, where she made friends with a group of Mexican dishwashers. They told her about how their kids were falling behind in school because they struggled with English. So Daphne did some Googling and found her way to Puentes, where she eventually worked with staff to create an after-school program for the kids of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Today, that program is tutoring and mentoring hundreds of kids in South Philadelphia. And today, Doctor Daphne Owen is graduating from Penn Medical School [Applause].

Amidst all the darkness of the world, it can be easy to lose sight of all the bright spots. But look around you: they are all around you.

Consider this: From 1990 to 2010, the number of people living in extreme poverty in the world – people who live on less than a dollar a day – fell by 700 million people. At my last graduation – from law school, in 1999 – the idea of an American state legalizing civil unions for LGBT persons wasn’t even on the radar. Indeed, that year, 36 states had passed statutes or constitutional amendments banning marriage for same-sex couples. Today, the same number of states, 36 – have legalized marriage for same-sex couples [Applause]. And if there is justice, the Supreme Court will soon affirm marriage for same-sex couples as a constitutional right across this great land [Applause].

Class of 2015: You are going out into a world of profound challenges, it goes without saying. But the Binta Ibrahims and the Puentes of the world show us that – whether in Nigeria or in Philadelphia – the path to solving these big problems begins with small solutions. And it starts with individuals. Individuals like you.

You can see that in the teenager who straps three kids onto her back and her waist and walks for two days straight. You can see it in the doctors who notice new neighbors living in the shadows and extend a hand.

Penn grads, you have the inclination and the ability to change your communities, and to change your slice of the world. Act as if. Know something about something. Bring others along. And humanize your cause.

Franklin was right when he said the purpose of the education you have all just received is not to serve yourself – but to serve your community, your nation, your world. This has been Penn’s mission from its conception. It must continue to be your mission from this day forth.

Best of luck, Class of 2015. Go at it! [Applause]


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