转: 比尔 Gates 斯坦福州立高校毕业典礼解说1
President Bok, former President Rudenstine, incoming President Faust,
members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members
of the faculty, parents, and especially, the graduates:
I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: “Dad, I always told
you I’d come back and get my degree.”
I want to thank Harvard for this timely honor. I’ll be changing my job
next year … and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my
I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to
your degrees. For my part, I’m just happy that the Crimson has called me
“Harvard’s most successful dropout.” I guess that makes me valedictorian
of my own special class … I did the best of everyone who failed.
But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to
drop out of business school. I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was
invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your
orientation, fewer of you might be here today.
Harvard was just a phenomenal experience for me. Academic life was
fascinating. I used to sit in on lots of classes I hadn’t even signed up
for. And dorm life was terrific. I lived up at Radcliffe, in Currier
House. There were always lots of people in my dorm room late at night
discussing things, because everyone knew I didn’t worry about getting up
in the morning. That’s how I came to be the leader of the anti-social
group. We clung to each other as a way of validating our rejection of
all those social people.
Radcliffe was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and
most of the guys were science-math types. That combination offered me
the best odds, if you know what I mean. This is where I learned the sad
lesson that improving your odds doesn’t guarantee success.
One of my biggest memories of Harvard came in January 1975, when I made
a call from Currier House to a company in Albuquerque that had begun
making the world’s first personal computers. I offered to sell them
I worried that they would realize I was just a student in a dorm and
hang up on me. Instead they said: “We’re not quite ready, come see us in
a month,” which was a good thing, because we hadn’t written the software
yet. From that moment, I worked day and night on this little extra
credit project that marked the end of my college education and the
beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft.
What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so
much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating,
sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing
privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at
Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.
But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret.
I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the
world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity
that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.
I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and
politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the
But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how
those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through
democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad
economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human
I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated
out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew
nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and
disease in developing countries.
It took me decades to find out.
You graduates came to Harvard at a different time. You know more about
the world’s inequities than the classes that came before. In your years
here, I hope you’ve had a chance to think about how – in this age of
accelerating technology – we can finally take on these inequities, and
we can solve them.
Imagine, just for the sake of discussion, that you had a few hours a
week and a few dollars a month to donate to a cause – and you wanted to
spend that time and money where it would have the greatest impact in
saving and improving lives. Where would you spend it?
For Melinda and for me, the challenge is the same: how can we do the
most good for the greatest number with the resources we have.
During our discussions on this question, Melinda and I read an article
about the millions of children who were dying every year in poor
countries from diseases that we had long ago made harmless in this
country. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, yellow fever. One
disease I had never even heard of, rotavirus, was killing half a million
kids each year – none of them in the United States.
We were shocked. We had just assumed that if millions of children were
dying and they could be saved, the world would make it a priority to
discover and deliver the medicines to save them. But it did not. For
under a dollar, there were interventions that could save lives that just
weren’t being delivered.
If you believe that every life has equal value, it’s revolting to learn
that some lives are seen as worth saving and others are not. We said to
ourselves: “This can’t be true. But if it is true, it deserves to be the
priority of our giving.”
So we began our work in the same way anyone here would begin it. We
asked: “How could the world let these children die?”
The answer is simple, and harsh. The market did not reward saving the
lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it. So the
children died because their mothers and their fathers had no power in
the market and no voice in the system.
But you and I have both.
We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a
more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces
so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living,
serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can
press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that
better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.
If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that
generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have
found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is
open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer
this challenge will change the world.
I am optimistic that we can do this, but I talk to skeptics who claim
there is no hope. They say: “Inequity has been with us since the
beginning, and will be with us till the end – because people just …
don’t … care.” I completely disagree.
I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with.
All of us here in this Yard, at one time or another, have seen human
tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing – not because we
didn’t care, but because we didn’t know what to do. If we had known how
to help, we would have acted.
The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much
To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution,
and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.
Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a
complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an
airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They
promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes
in the future.
But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: “Of all the
people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of
one percent of them were on this plane. We’re determined to do
everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one
half of one percent.”
The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of
We don’t read much about these deaths. The media covers what’s new – and
millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background,
where it’s easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about
it, it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It’s hard to look at
suffering if the situation is so complex that we don’t know how to help.
And so we look away.
If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the
second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.
Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our
caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or
individual asks “How can I help?,” then we can get action – and we can
make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity
makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that
makes it hard for their caring to matter.