I'm honored to be here with you today because, let's face it,
you accomplished something I never could.
If I get through this speech today, it'll be the first time I
actually finish something here at Harvard. Class of 2017,
Now I'm an unlikely speaker today, not just because I dropped
out, but because we're technically in the same generation.
We walked this yard less than a decade apart, we studied the
same ideas and slept through the same Ec10 lectures.
我们相差十年，但我们研究的是相同的课题，在相同的 Ec10 课堂上打过瞌睡。
We may have taken different roads to get here, especially if you
came all the way from the Quad, but today I want to share what I've
learned about our generation and the world we're all building
But my best memory from Harvard is meeting Priscilla.
I had just launched this prank website Facemash, and the ad
board wanted to "see me". Everyone thought I was going to get
kicked out. My parents drove up here to help me pack my stuff. My
friends threw me a going-away party.
As luck would have it, Priscilla was at that party with her
We met in line for the bathroom in the Pfoho Belltower, and in
what must be one of the all time romantic lines, I turned to her
and said: "I'm getting kicked out in three days, so we need to go
on a date quickly."
The janitor replied, "Mr. President, I'm helping put a man on
Purpose is that feeling that you are part of something bigger
than yourself, that you are needed, that you have something better
ahead to work for.
Purpose is what creates true happiness.
And you're graduating at a time when this is especially
When our parents graduated, that sense of purpose reliably came
from your job, your church, your community.
But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs,
membership in a lot of communities has been declining, and a lot of
people are feeling disconnected and depressed, and are trying to
fill a void in their lives.
As I've traveled around, I've sat with children in juvenile
detention and opioid addicts, who told me that maybe their lives
would have turned out differently if they just had something to do,
an after-school program or somewhere to go.
But it's not enough to have that purpose yourself. You also have
to create a sense of purpose for others.
And I found that out the hard way. You see, my hope was never to
build a company. I wanted to have an impact. And as all these
people started joining us, I just assumed that that's what they
wanted to do too, so I never took the time to explain what it was
that I hoped we'd build.
Today I want to talk about three ways that we can create a world
where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful
projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the
freedom to pursue their purpose, and by building community all
across the world.
Oh, and you know what else movies get wrong about innovation? No
one writes math formulas on glass. That's not a thing.
It's really good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be
Anyone working on a big vision is gonna get called crazy, even
if you end up right.
Anyone taking on a complex problem is gonna get blamed for not
fully understanding it, even though it's impossible to know
Anyone taking initiative will always get criticized for moving
too fast, because there's always someone who wants to slow you
In our society, we often don't take on big things because we're
so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong
today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do today is
gonna have some issues in the future. But that can't keep us from
So what are we waiting for? It's time for our
generation-defining great works.
How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet
and getting millions of people involved manufacturing and
installing solar panels?
How about curing all diseases and getting people involved by
asking volunteers to share their health data, track their health
data and share their genomes?
The second is redefining our idea of equality, so everyone has
the freedom to pursue their purpose.
Now many of our parents had stable jobs throughout their
careers. But in our generation, we're all a little entrepreneurial,
whether we're starting our own projects or finding our role in
another one. And you know that's great, because our culture of
entrepreneurship is how we create so much progress.
JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before she finally wrote and
published HarryPotter. Even Beyonce had to make
hundreds of songs to get Halo. The greatest successes come from
having the freedom to fail.
JK 罗琳 (JK Rowling) 在最终完成并发表《HarryPotter》前被拒绝了 12
次。即使是碧昂丝 (Beyonce) 也是在完成几百首歌曲后才收获光环。最大的成功往往来自于能够自由的失败。
Now today, we have a level of wealth inequality that hurts
When you don't have the freedom to take your idea and turn it
into a historic enterprise, we all lose. And right now today our
society is way over-indexed on rewarding people on their successful
and we don't do nearly enough to make sure that everyone can take
lots of different shots.
Let's face it. There is something wrong with our system when I
can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while
millions of students can't even afford to pay off their loans, let
alone start a business.
Look, I know a lot of entrepreneurs, and I don't know a single
person who gave up on starting a business because they were worried
they might not make enough money.
But I know too many people who haven't had the chance to pursue
their dreams because they didn't have a cushion to fall back on if
We all know you don't get successful just by having a good idea
or working hard. You get successful by being lucky too.
If I had to support my family growing up instead of having the
time to learn how to code, If I didn't know that I was gonna be
fine if Facebook didn't work out, then I wouldn't be standing up
here today. And if we're honest, we all know how much luck we've
had to get to this point in our lives.
Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous
generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New
Deal and Great Society. And now it's time for our generation to
define a new social contract.
That is why Priscilla and I started the Chan Zuckerberg
Initiative and committed our wealth to promoting equal opportunity.
These are the values of our whole generation. It was never a
question of if we were going to do this. The only question was
Millennials are already one of the most charitable generations
in history. In just one year, more than three in four US
millennials donated to charity and more than seven in ten raised
money for another one.
Now maybe you're thinking that's a lot of time. I'm not sure if
I have that much time. I used to think that. You know when
Priscilla graduated from Harvard, she became a teacher, and before
she'd do education work with me, she told me that I needed to get
my own experience teaching a class.
I shared stories of my time in school, and they shared their
hope that one day they would get to go to college too.
For five years, I've had dinner with those students every month.
One of them even threw Priscilla and me our first baby shower. And
next year they're going to college. Every one of them. First
generation in their families.
We can all make time to give someone a hand. Let's give everyone
the freedom to pursue purpose—not just because it's the right thing
to do, but because when more people can turn their dreams into
something great, we're all better for it.
Purpose doesn't only come from work. The third way we can create
a sense of purpose for everyone is by building community. And in
our generation when we say purpose for "everyone", we mean everyone
in the world.
Now quick show of hands: how many of you here are from another
Now keep your hands up.
How many of you are friends with one of these folks?
Now we're talking. See, we have grown up connected.
In a recent survey of millennials around the world asking what
most defines our identity, the most popular answer wasn't
nationality, ethnicity or religion, it was "citizen of the world".
That's a big deal.
We get that our greatest opportunities are now global—we can be
the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease.
我们知道目前最大的机遇是全球化 - 我们是能够终结贫困、终结疾病的一代。
And we get that our greatest challenges need global responses
too—no country can fight climate change alone or prevent
我们还知道我们最大的挑战同样需要全球响应 - 没有哪个国家可以单独抵抗气候变化或阻止流行病。
Progress now requires coming together not just as cities or
nations, but also as a global community.
But we live in an unstable time. There are people left behind by
globalization across the whole world. It's tough to care about
people in other places if we don't feel good about our lives here
at home. There's pressure to turn inwards.
This is the struggle of our time. The forces of freedom,
openness and global community against the forces of
authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism. Forces for the flow
of knowledge, trade and immigration against those who would slow
This is not a battle of nations; it's a battle of ideas.
There're people in every country for more global connection and
there're good people against it.
And this isn't gonna be decided at the UN either. It's gonna
happen at the local level, when enough of us feel a sense of
purpose and stability in our own lives that we can start to open up
and care about everyone too. And the best way to do that is to
start building local communities right now.
We all get a lot of meaning from our communities. Who is from
Elliot House? How about Lowell? I know you guys found community
because you literally live right on top of each other. And Mather?
I'll just leave that there.
Whether our communities are houses or sports teams, churches or
a cappella groups, they give us that sense we are part of something
bigger, that we are not alone; they give us the strength to expand
And that's why it's so striking that over the past few decades,
membership in all kinds of communities has declined by as much as
one-quarter. That's a lot of people who now need to find a sense of
purpose somewhere else.
But I know that we can rebuild these communities and start new
ones because many of you already are.
I met Agnes Igoye, who's graduating today. Agnes, where are you?
Agnes spent her childhood navigating conflict zones with human
trafficking in Uganda, and now she's trained thousands of law
enforcement officials to keep communities safe.
I met Kayla Oakley and Niha Jain, graduating today, too. Stand
up guys. Kayla and Niha started a non-profit that connects people
suffering from chronic illnesses with people in their communities
who are willing to help out.
我遇到了 Kayla Oakley 和 Niha Jain，他们今天也毕业了。站起来，朋友。Kayla 和 Niha
I met David Razu Aznar, graduating from the Kennedy School
today. David, stand up. David is a former city councilor who fought
to make Mexico City the first Latin American city to pass marriage
equality—even before San Francisco.
我遇到了 David Razu Aznar，他今天从肯尼迪学院毕业。David，站起来。David
以前是市议员，他致力于让墨西哥城成为第一个通过婚姻平等的拉丁美洲城市 - 甚至比旧金山还要早。
And this is my story too. A student in a dorm, connecting one
community at a time, and keeping at it until one day we can connect
the whole world.
Change starts local. Even global change starts small, with
people like us.
In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more,
whether we achieve our greatest opportunities, comes down to
this—your ability to build communities and create a world where
every single person has a sense of purpose.
Class of 2017, you are graduating into a world that needs
purpose, and it's up to you to create it.
Now, maybe you're asking yourself: can I really do this?
Well, remember when I told you about that class I taught at the
Boys and Girls Club?
One day after class I was talking to my students about going to
college, and one of my top students raised his hand and said he
that wasn't sure he could go because he's undocumented. He wasn't
sure if they'd take him.
Last year I took him out to breakfast for his birthday and I
wanted to get him a gift, so I asked him what he wanted and he just
started talking about struggles that he saw other students in this
class facing, and finally said, "You know, I'd really just like a
book on social justice."
So before you walk out those gates one last time, as we sit in
front of Memorial Church, I am reminded of a prayer, Mi Shebeirach,
that I say whenever I face a big challenge, that I sing to my
daughter thinking of her future when I tuck her in at night. It