Friday, May 14, 2010


Commencement addresses are usually forgettably underwhelming. But there have been some good ones, like Paul Hawken's at the University of Portland last year:

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television. 

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequeathed to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.
Hawken's talk at Google was more restrained, but it also bore the powerful message of Blessed Unrest: we must stop stealing from the future, and in fact there are hopeful signs that more and more people all around the world are committed to doing just that.  They're beginning to connect, in an atomized and non-ideological movement that is truly inspired. Inspiring.

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