Commencement address by Paul Hawken

We were read this commencement address today during lecture. I found it so touching and meaningful, I’m going to share snippets of it here, and direct you to the website to read the whole of it.

We are, indeed, in a world today where things are a-changing. No more are we so isolated that we only care for those immediately related to us. Nor are we so detached that we couldn’t care less what was happening on the other side of the world.

Here are some snippets:

If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.


What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.


We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment.


Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.


The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful.


Read that last quote I pulled out. Then read it again. If that ain’t beautiful, I don’t know what is.

The whole commencement address can be found HERE. Read, think, and then be hopeful. We’ll get there.


5 Comments on “Commencement address by Paul Hawken”

  1. Antares says:

    Any college student would be extremely lucky to have Paul Hawkens deliver a commencement addresss at their university. His is truly a magnanimous and comprehensive intellect. He began his personal awakening back in the mid-1960s when he visited a spiritual community called Findhorn located in Scotland and reported on his experiences there. Thanks for alerting us to Hawkens’s speech, dear Michelle!

  2. Oxymoron says:

    When a businessman sits down to calculate his profits, the environment, among other things, is not in the equation. But then people make babies without thinking of the consequences either.

    I hope students will be less selfish after listening to the address. Maybe there are technologies out there that can solve some of the problems but rich countries are not willing to share. My feeling is millions will die from global warming, war, disease and famine before everything gets back to equilibrium again. Earth’s population now is not sustainable.

  3. Antares says:

    Actually, his name is Hawken – not Hawkens, which often passes for an alternative spelling of Hawkins. I read the entire speech and was so impressed I’m going to reproduce the whole thing on my blog. Thanks again, Michelle, for pointing me to it!
    Thanks for the correction Antares. Am glad you found it impressive. It really is good, isn’t it?

  4. Oxymoron says:

    Only one question: Why does every cell dream of becoming two cells?

  5. bubbler says:

    I love Paul Hawken. His books–particularly The Ecology of Commerce with Amory Lovins–are eye openers. His writing should be required reading in business schools!

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