By Mark Ruffalo
May 18, 2015

I didn’t graduate from college, so I’m in awe of every one of you. So thank you — I’m really grateful and honored to be here today. Thank you, Sam and Julie. And thank you, President Roseman.

I want to accept the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Prize on behalf of the leadership and staff of Water Defense. All that money is going to go to the nonprofit organization Water Defense, so thank you.

I was going to talk a little bit about Water Defense, but I would rather talk about you. And you can look up Water Defense on the website.

I’m here to tell you that activist is not a dirty word. And I’m here to tell your parents that, as well.

I didn’t expect to be an activist — I sort of stumbled up on it because in the words of Larry Kramer, one of the AIDS activists and a mentor of mine, you have to fight for what you love.

And you guys, in particular, are facing a lot of fights, I think. And I am happy to say that your generation is well-armed to take them up. We have climate change, we have a mass sort of imbalanced corporatization, these lead to environmental degradation and also social justice issues. And we’re sort of coming to a head — they’re all coming to a head. There’s really no chance of ducking it or not having to deal with it. And I’m thrilled to be here you young people today who have so much knowledge and so much ability to communicate on such a grand level and a global level.

And so I’m asking each of you, at some point, to act up — be misbehaved. Buck the system. Fight for what you believe in. This is the time to do it. You’re the ones to do it. Your world, like no other generation, you actually get to create the world that you can imagine. And never in the history of mankind has it been so available to so many people to do that thing. And I am so excited to be here with you today and I am excited to see you go out and do wonderful things that I know you’ve learned to do. And don’t be afraid of anything.

Thank you very much — it’s a great honor.

Read more 2015 commencement speeches:

Alan Alda to Grads: Everything in Life Takes Time

Bernard Harris to Grads: You Are an Infinite Being With Infinite Possibilities

Bill Nye to Grads: Change the World

Chris Matthews to Grads: ‘Make Them Say No. Never Say No to Yourself’

Colin Powell to Grads: Learn to Lead

Ed Helms to Grads: Define Yourselves

Eric Schmidt to Grads: You Can Write the Code for All of Us

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel to Grads: ‘This Is the World We Were Born Into, and We Are Responsible for It’

Gwen Ifill to Grads: If You See Something, Do Something

GE CEO Jeff Immelt to Grads: Become a Force for Change

Ian McEwan to Grads: Defend Free Speech

Joe Plumeri to Grads: Go Out and Play in Traffic

Jon Bon Jovi to Grads: Lead By Example

Jorge Ramos’ Message for Journalists: Take a Stand

Joyce Carol Oates to Grads: Be Stubborn and Optimistic

Katie Couric to Grads: Get Yourself Noticed

Ken Burns to Grads: Set Things Right Again

Kenneth Cole to Grads: Find Your Voice

Madeleine Albright to Grads: The World Needs You

Mark Ruffalo to Grads: Buck the System

Matthew McConaughey to Grads: Always Play Like an Underdog

Maya Rudolph to Grads: Create Your Own Destiny

Mellody Hobson to Grads: Set Your Sights High

Meredith Vieira to Grads: Be the Left Shark

Michelle Obama to Grads: Shape the Revolution

Mitt Romney to Grads: America Needs You to Serve

Natalie Portman to Grads: Carve Your Own Path

President Obama to Grads: We Should Invest in People Like You

President Obama to Cadets: Lead the Way on Fighting Climate Change

Salman Rushdie to Grads: Try to Be Larger Than Life

Samantha Power to Grads: Start Changing the World By ‘Acting As If’

Stephen Colbert to Grads: You Are Your Own Professor Now

Tim Cook to Grads: Tune Out the Cynics

Contact us at editors@time.com.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

You May Like

EDIT POST