Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg Commencement Address | Harvard Commencement 2017

President Faust, Board of Overseers, faculty, alumni, friends, proud parents, members of the ad board, and graduates of the greatest university in the world, I'm honored to be with you today because, let's face it, you accomplished something I never could.

If I get through this speech, it'll be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard. Class of 2017, congratulations! I'm an unlikely speaker, not just because I dropped out, but because we're technically in the same generation.

We walked this yard less than a decade apart, studied the same ideas and slept through the same Ec10 lectures. We may have taken different paths 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 building together.

But first, the last couple of days have brought back a lot of good memories. How many of you remember exactly what you were doing when you got that email telling you that you got into Harvard? I was playing Civilization and I ran downstairs, got my dad, and for some reason, his reaction was to video me opening the email.

That could have been a really sad video. I swear getting into Harvard is still the thing my parents are most proud of me for. What about your first lecture at Harvard? Mine was Computer Science 121 with the incredible Harry Lewis.

I was late so I threw on a t-shirt and didn't realize until afterwards it was inside out and backwards with my tag sticking out the front. I couldn't figure out why no one would talk to me — except one guy, KX Jin, he just went with it.

We ended up doing our problem sets together, and now he runs a big part of Facebook. And that, Class of 2017, is why you should be nice to people. But my best memory from Harvard was 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 came to help me pack. My friends threw me a going away party.

As luck would have it, Priscilla was at that party with her friend. We met in line for the bathroom in the Pfoho Belltower, and in what must be one of the all time romantic lines, I said: "I'm going to get kicked out in three days, so we need to go on a date quickly.

" Actually, any of you graduating can use that line. I didn't end up getting kicked out — I did that to myself. Priscilla and I started dating. And, you know, that movie made it seem like Facemash was so important to creating Facebook.

It wasn't. But without Facemash I wouldn't have met Priscilla, and she's the most important person in my life, so you could say it was the most important thing I built in my time here. We've all started lifelong friendships here, and some of us even families.

That's why I'm so grateful to this place. Thanks, Harvard. Today I want to talk about purpose. But I'm not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. We're millennials.

We'll try to do that instinctively. Instead, I'm here to tell you finding your purpose isn't enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

One of my favorite stories is when John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: "Mr. President, I'm helping put a man on the moon".

Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness. You're graduating at a time when this is especially important.

When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in communities is declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void.

As I've traveled around, I've sat with children in juvenile detention and opioid addicts, who told me their lives could have turned out differently if they just had something to do, an after school program or somewhere to go.

I've met factory workers who know their old jobs aren't coming back and are trying to find their place. To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge — to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose.

I remember the night I launched Facebook from my little dorm in Kirkland House. I went to Noch's with my friend KX. I remember telling him I was excited to connect the Harvard community, but one day someone would connect the whole world.

The thing is, it never even occurred to me that someone might be us. We were just college kids. We didn't know anything about that. There were all these big technology companies with resources. I just assumed one of them would do it.

But this idea was so clear to us — that all people want to connect. So we just kept moving forward, day by day. I know a lot of you will have your own stories just like this. A change in the world that seems so clear you're sure someone else will do it.

But they won't. You will. But it's not enough to have purpose yourself. You have to create a sense of purpose for others. I found that out the hard way. You see, my hope was never to build a company, but to make an impact.

And as all these people started joining us, I just assumed that's what they cared about too, so I never explained what I hoped we'd build. A couple years in, some big companies wanted to buy us.

I didn't want to sell. I wanted to see if we could connect more people. We were building the first News Feed, and I thought if we could just launch this, it could change how we learn about the world.

Nearly everyone else wanted to sell. Without a sense of higher purpose, this was the startup dream come true. It tore our company apart. After one tense argument, an advisor told me if I didn't agree to sell, I would regret the decision for the rest of my life.

Relationships were so frayed that within a year or so every single person on the management team was gone. That was my hardest time leading Facebook. I believed in what we were doing, but I felt alone.

And worse, it was my fault. I wondered if I was just wrong, an imposter, a 22 year-old kid who had no idea how the world worked. Now, years later, I understand that *is* how things work with no sense of higher purpose.

It's up to us to create it so we can all keep moving forward together. Today I want to talk about three ways to 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 purpose, and by building community across the world.

First, let's take on big meaningful projects. Our generation will have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars and trucks. But we have the potential to do so much more together.

Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon \'96 including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio.

Millions of more people built the Hoover dam and other great projects. These projects didn't just provide purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave our whole country a sense of pride that we could do great things.

Now it's our turn to do great things. I know, you're probably thinking: I don't know how to build a dam, or get a million people involved in anything. But let me tell you a secret: no one does when they begin.

Ideas don't come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.

Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven't had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started.

Oh, you know what else movies get wrong about innovation? No one writes math formulas on glass. That's not a thing. It's good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right.

Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it's impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there's always someone who wants to slow you down.

In our society, we often don't do 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 will have issues in the future.

But that can't keep us from starting. So what are we waiting for? It's time for our generation-defining public 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 asking volunteers to track their health data and share their genomes? Today we spend 50x more treating people who are sick than we spend finding cures so people don't get sick in the first place.

That makes no sense. We can fix this. How about modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online, and personalizing education so everyone can learn? These achievements are within our reach. Let's do them all in a way that gives everyone in our society a role.

Let's do big things, not only to create progress, but to create purpose. So taking on big meaningful projects is the first thing we can do to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose. The second is redefining equality to give everyone the freedom they need to pursue purpose.

Many of our parents had stable jobs throughout their careers. Now we're all entrepreneurial, whether we're starting projects or finding or role. And that's great. Our culture of entrepreneurship is how we create so much progress.

Now, an entrepreneurial culture thrives when it's easy to try lots of new ideas. Facebook wasn't the first thing I built. I also built games, chat systems, study tools and music players. I'm not alone.

JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing Harry Potter. Even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get Halo. The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail. But today, we have a level of wealth inequality that hurts everyone.

When you don't have the freedom to take your idea and turn it into a historic enterprise, we all lose. Right now our society is way over-indexed on rewarding success and we don't do nearly enough to make it easy for everyone to take lots of 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 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 might not make enough money. But I know lots of people who haven't pursued dreams because they didn't have a cushion to fall back on if they failed.

We all know we don't succeed just by having a good idea or working hard. We succeed by being lucky too. If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, if I didn't know I'd be fine if Facebook didn't work out, I wouldn't be standing here today.

If we're honest, we all know how much luck we've had. Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society.

Now it's our time to define a new social contract for our generation. We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful.

We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things. We\'92re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable childcare to get to work and healthcare that aren't tied to one company.

We're all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.

\ And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn't free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too. That's why Priscilla and I started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and committed our wealth to promoting equal opportunity.

These are the values of our generation. It was never a question of if we were going to do this. The only question was when. Millennials are already one of the most charitable generations in history. In one year, three of four US millennials made a donation and seven out of ten raised money for charity.

But it's not just about money. You can also give time. I promise you, if you take an hour or two a week — that's all it takes to give someone a hand, to help them reach their potential. Maybe you think that's too much time.

I used to. When Priscilla graduated from Harvard she became a teacher, and before she'd do education work with me, she told me I needed to teach a class. I complained: "Well, I'm kind of busy.

I'm running this company." But she insisted, so I taught a middle school program on entrepreneurship at the local Boys and Girls Club. I taught them lessons on product development and marketing, and they taught me what it's like feeling targeted for your race and having a family member in prison.

I shared stories from my time in school, and they shared their hope of one day going to college too. For five years now, I\'92ve been having dinner with those kids every month. One of them threw me and Priscilla our first baby shower.

And next year they\'92re going to college. Every one of them. First in their families. We can all make time to give someone a hand. Let's give everyone the freedom to pursue their purpose — not only 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 when our generation says "everyone", we mean everyone in the world.

Quick show of hands: how many of you are from another country? Now, how many of you are friends with one of these folks? Now we're talking. We have grown up connected.\ In a survey asking millennials around the world what defines our identity, the most popular answer wasn't nationality, religion or ethnicity, it was "citizen of the world".

That's a big deal. Every generation expands the circle of people we consider "one of us". For us, it now encompasses the entire world. We understand the great arc of human history bends towards people coming together in ever greater numbers — from tribes to cities to nations — to achieve things we couldn't on our own.

We get that our greatest opportunities are now global — we can be the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease. We get that our greatest challenges need global responses too — no country can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics.

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 world. It's hard 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 them down.

This is not a battle of nations, it's a battle of ideas. There are people in every country for global connection and good people against it. This isn't going to be decided at the UN either. It's going to happen at the local level, when enough of us feel a sense of purpose and stability in our own lives that we can open up and start caring about everyone.

The best way to do that is to start building local communities right now. We all get meaning from our communities. Whether our communities are houses or sports teams, churches or music groups, they give us that sense we are part of something bigger, that we are not alone; they give us the strength to expand our horizons.

That's why it's so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That's a lot of people who now need to find purpose somewhere else. But I know we can rebuild our communities and start new ones because many of you already are.

I met Agnes Igoye, who's graduating today. Where are you, Agnes? She spent her childhood navigating conflict zones in Uganda, and now she trains thousands of law enforcement officers to keep communities safe.

I met Kayla Oakley and Niha Jain, graduating today, too. Stand up. Kayla and Niha started a non-profit that connects people suffering from illnesses with people in their communities willing to help. I met David Razu Aznar, graduating from the Kennedy School today.

David, stand up. He's a former city councilor who successfully led the battle to make Mexico City the first Latin American city to pass marriage equality — even before San Francisco. This is my story too.

A student in a dorm room, connecting one community at a time, and keeping at it until one day we connect the whole world. Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us. In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest 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. It's up to you to create it. Now, you may be thinking: can I really do this? Remember when I told you about that class I taught at the Boys and Girls Club? One day after class I was talking to them about college, and one of my top students raised his hand and said he wasn't sure he could go because he's undocumented.

He didn't know if they'd let him in. Last year I took him out to breakfast for his birthday. I wanted to get him a present, so I asked him and he started talking about students he saw struggling and said "You know, I'd really just like a book on social justice.

" I was blown away. Here's a young guy who has every reason to be cynical. He didn't know if the country he calls home — the only one he's known — would deny him his dream of going to college.

But he wasn't feeling sorry for himself. He wasn't even thinking of himself. He has a greater sense of purpose, and he's going to bring people along with him. It says something about our current situation that I can't even say his name because I don't want to put him at risk.

But if a high school senior who doesn't know what the future holds can do his part to move the world forward, then we owe it to the world to do our part too. 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 challenge, that I sing to my daughter thinking about her future when I tuck her into bed.

It goes: "May the source of strength, who blessed the ones before us, help us *find the courage* to make our lives a blessing." I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing. Congratulations, Class of '17! Good luck out there.

dr. Mark Zuckerberg I love this place thank you all for coming out in the rain the pouring rain we're going to make this worth it for you president Faust Board of Overseers faculty friends alumni proud parents members of the ad board and graduates of the greatest university in the world 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 finished something here at Harvard class of 2017 congratulations now I'm an unlikely speaker today not just because I dropped out but because we're technically in the same generation we walk this yard less than a decade apart we studied the same ideas and slept through the same act 10 lectures 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 together but first these are the last couple of days to brought back a lot of good memories how many of you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you got that email telling you you got into Harvard [Applause] I was playing I was playing the video game civilization and I ran downstairs and got my dad and for some reason his first reaction was to video me opening an email that could have been a really really sad video but I swear getting into Harvard is the thing my parents are most proud of me for my mom is nodding y'all know what I'm talking about look guys it's tough to beat this you'll see when you get out there how many of you remember your first lecture here at Harvard mine was computer science 121 with the incredible Harry Lewis Harry I [Applause] was running late for class so I throw on a t-shirt and I didn't realize until afterwards I put it on inside out and backwards my tag was sticking out the front I couldn't figure out why no one in class would talk to me except for this one guy k-x gym he just went with it we started doing our problem sets together and now he runs a big part of Facebook and that class of 2017 is why you should be nice to people but my best memory from Harvard is meeting Priscilla I had just launched this prank website face mask 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 who does that as luck would have it Priscilla was at that party with her friends and we met in line for the bathroom in the FO ho bell tower and then what must be one of the all-time most romantic lines I turned her and said I'm getting kicked out in three days so we need to go on to date quickly actually any of you graduating today can use that line I'm getting kicked out today we need to go on a date fast I didn't end up getting kicked out I did that to myself Priscilla and I started dating and you know that movie made it seem like Facemash was so important to starting Facebook it wasn't but without Facemash I never would have met Priscilla and Priscilla is the most important person in my life so you could still say it was the most important thing I built in my time here [Applause] we have all started lifelong friendships here and some of us even families that's why I'm so grateful to this place thanks Harvard today I want to talk about purpose but I'm not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose we're Millennials we try to do that instinctively instead I'm here to tell you that finding your purpose isn't enough the challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose one of my favorite stories is when JFK went to go visit the NASA Space Center and he saw janitor holding a broom and he asked him what he was doing and the janitor replied mr.

president I'm helping put a man on the moon purpose is that feeling that you are a part of something bigger than yourself that you are needed and that you have something better ahead to work for purpose is what creates true happiness and you are graduating at a time when this is especially important 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 addict who told me that maybe their lives would have turned out differently if they just had something to do and after school program or somewhere to go I've met factory workers who know their old jobs aren't coming back and are just trying to find their path ahead for our society to keep moving forward we have a generational challenge to not only create new jobs but create a renewed sense of purpose I remember that night I launched Facebook from that little dorm in Kirkland house I went to Doakes with my friend kayaks and I remember telling him clearly that I was excited to help connect the Harvard community but one day someone would connect the whole world the thing is it never even occurred to me that that someone might be us we were just college kids we didn't know anything about that there were all these great big technology companies with all these resources and I just assumed one of them would do it but this idea was so clear to us that all people want to connect so we just kept working on it day after day after day and I know that a lot of you are going to have your own stories just like this a change in the world that seems so clear that you are sure someone else is going to do it but they're not you will 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 built a couple years in some big companies wanted to buy us I didn't want to sell I wanted to see if we could connect more people and we were building the first version of newsfeed at the time and I thought if we could just launch this it could change how we all learn about the world nearly everyone else wanted to sell without a sense of higher purpose this was their startup dream come true and it tore our company apart after one particularly tense argument one of my closest advisors told me if I didn't agree to sell the company right now I would regret that decision for the rest of my life relationships were so afraid that within a year or so every single person on our management team was gone that was my hardest time leading Facebook I believed in what we were doing but I felt alone and worse it was my fault I wondered if I was just wrong an impostor a 22 year old kid who had no idea how things actually worked now years later I understand it that is how things work when there's no sense of higher purpose so it's up to all of us to create it so we can all keep moving forward together and 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 so first let's take on big meaningful projects our generation is going to have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars and trucks but we have the potential to do so much more than that every generation has its defining works more than three hundred thousand people work to put that man on the moon including that janitor millions of volunteers immunize children around the world against polio and millions of more people built the Hoover Dam and other great projects and now it's our generations turn to do great things now I know maybe you're thinking I don't know how to build a dam I don't know how to get a million people involved in anything well let me tell you a secret no one does when they begin ideas don't come out fully formed they only become clear as you work on them you just have to get started if I had to know everything about connecting people before I got started I never would have built Facebook movies and pop culture just get this all wrong the idea of a single Eureka moment is a dangerous lie it makes us feel inadequate because we feel like we haven't had ours yet and it prevents people with seeds of good ideas from ever getting started in the first place oh and you know what else movies get wrong about innovation no one writes math formulas on glass okay all right that's not a thing okay it's really good to be idealistic but be prepared to be misunderstood anyone working on a big vision is going to get called crazy even if you end up right anyone taking on a complex problem is going to get blamed for not fully understanding it even though it's impossible to know everything up front anyone taking initiative will always get criticized for moving too fast because there's always someone who wants to slow you down 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 going to have some issues in the future but that can't stop us from getting started so what are we waiting for it is time for our generation defining great works how about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet and getting millions of people involved [Applause] 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 you know today our society spend more than 50 times as much treating people were sick as we invest in finding cures so people get sick in the first place it makes no sense we can fix this how about modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online and how about personalizing education so everyone can learn these achievements are all within our reach let's do them all in a way that gives everyone in our society a role let's do big things not just to create progress but to create purpose so taking on big meaningful projects together is the first thing we can do to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose 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 order 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 an entrepreneurial culture thrives when it is easy to try lots of new ideas Facebook wasn't the first thing I built I also built chat systems and games study tools and music players and I'm not alone JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before she finally wrote and published Harry Potter even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get halo the greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail now today we have a level of wealth and equality that hurts everyone when you can't 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 when their success and we don't do nearly enough to make sure that everyone can take lots of different shots now let's face it there is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in ten 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 they failed we all know you don't get successful just by having a good idea or working hard you get successful by being lucky – 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 going to be fine if Facebook didn't work out then I wouldn't be standing up here today and if we were 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 we should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful we should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas we're all going to change jobs and roles many times so we need affordable childcare to get to work and healthcare that's not tied to just one employer and we're all going to make mistakes so we need a society that's less focused on locking us up and stigmatizing us when we do and as our technology keeps on evolving we need a society that is more focused on providing continuous education through our lives and yes giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn't going to be free people like me should pay for it and a lot of you are going to do really well and you should too 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 when Millennials are already one of the most charitable generations in history in just one year more than three and four u.

berg

s. Millennials donated to charity and more than seven and ten raise money for another one but it’s not just about giving money you can also give time and I promise you if you just take an hour to a week that’s all it takes to give someone a hand and help them reach their potential 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 do education work with me she told me that I needed to get my own experience teaching a class at first I complained you know I’m kind of busy running this company but she insisted so I taught an after-school program at the local Boys and Girls Club on entrepreneurship I taught those kids lessons on product development and marketing and they taught me what it was like growing up feeling targeted for your race and what it’s like having a family member in prison 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 through Priscilla and me our first baby shower and next year they’re going to college every one of them first generation and 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 are all better for it [Applause] 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 country I now keep your hands up how many of you are friends with one of these folks now we’re talking see we have 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 every generation expands the circle of people we consider one of us and in our generation that now includes the whole world we understand that the great arc of human history bends towards people coming together in ever greater numbers from tribes to cities to nations to achieve things that we could not on our own we get that our greatest opportunities are now global we can be the generation that ends poverty that ends disease and we get that our greatest challenges need global responses to no country can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics progress now requires coming together not just those 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 and it’s tough to care about people in other places well we don’t first 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 them down this is not a battle of Nations it is a battle of ideas there are people in every country for more global connection and there are good people against it and this isn’t going to be decided at the UN either it’s going to happen at the local level when enough of us feel a sense of purpose and stability and our own lives that we can start to open up and care about everyone else 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 hears from Elliot house how about Lowell I know you guys found community because you literally live right on top of each other and Mather [Music] obviously not there whether our communities our houses or sports teams churches or acapella groups they give us that sense that we’re a part of something bigger that we are not alone they give us the strength to expand our horizons 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 ago a 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 Neha Jain graduating today to stand up guys Kayla Neha started a non-profit that connects people suffering from chronic illnesses with people in their communities who are willing to help out and I met David Rosner who’s 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 and this is my story – 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 & 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 that he wasn’t sure he could go to college 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 his class facing and finally said you know I’d really just like a book on social justice I was blown away here is a young guy who has every reason to be cynical he wasn’t sure if the country he calls home the only one he’s known was going to deny him his dream of going to college but he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself he wasn’t even thinking of himself he has a greater sense of purpose and he’s going to bring people along with him it says something about our situation today that I can’t even say his name because I don’t want to put him at risk but if a high school senior who doesn’t know what the future holds for him can do his part to move the world forward then we owe it to the world to do our part to so before you walk out those gates one last time and as we sit here in front of Memorial Church I’m reminded of a prayer Misha Barak 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 and it goes may the source of strength whose blessed the ones before us help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing congratulations class of 2017 good luck out there [Applause]

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