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:
- The Fight to Save the Salmon
- Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money
- The 'Great Resignation' Is Finally Getting Companies to Take Burnout Seriously. Is It Enough?
- Suddenly, Everyone on TV Is Very Rich or Very Poor. What Happened?
- Colin Powell Reflects on His Mistakes in Unpublished TIME Interview
- Business Travel's Demise Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences
- If the U.S. Spends Big on Climate, the Rest of the World Might Follow