A message of urgency and hope for young people and all of the rest of us.
Extracts from: Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009
Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, founder of Wiser Earth and author of many books — most recently Blessed Unrest. He was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters by University of Portland, when he delivered this superb commencement address (read the full transcript)…..
“Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. ….. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system; you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades. …..
There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. ….
Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done. …..
No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. …..
Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. …. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history. …..”
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