You don't have to be a Gandhi or Mother Teresa to find more successful motives in life than simple greed. As we run out of stuff we reach the end of a purely profit- driven form of success, and that is just a fact, plain as a box of rocks. Governments tend to be slow on the uptake, but individuals can change quickly -- working people, thinking people, entrepreneurs. One person with only ordinary resources could, for example, found a bank that lends money to half a million women villagers in Bangladesh, allowing them to found small businesses, raise their families out of destitution, and work with dignity. I know this because it was done, by a man named Mohammed Yunus. Creative social entrepreneurs are building sturdy, valid businesses that advance positive changes in human life and environmental sustainability.
This is the kind of thing you'll get to be a part of, like it or not. Probably you will like it, because it feels good to marry your work with your heart, to spend your days on the job doing things that feel right to you. It's not just a paycheck then, it's paydirt, it's knowing you are not just taking up shelf space in this world, you're honestly living.
What will be required of you is a paradigm shift, the novel idea that making a living is not just about picking up the bread, hauling off all you can carry, but about living with an eye to what you really need, and on what you could spare for the future. You could distinguish yourselves as the first American generation that behaves as if there's going to be a tomorrow.
Friday, August 19, 2005
A friend sent a link to this wonderful commencement address by Barbara Kingsolver. What lucky students to hear these words: