I haven’t done this in a while, but I’ve been thinking about bringing it back. OPW stands for “Other People’s Words,” and since I moth-balled Link Banana I’ve been sharing most things I would have previously put there on Twitter. But this mini graduation/commencement/life speech from Hank Green, in the form of a YouTube video, was good enough I wanted to put it somewhere a bit more permanent.
Hello, future dead person! I have an uncomfortable truth for you: you are very likely, one of the luckiest and most powerful people who has ever existed on this planet.
Now you almost certainly do not feel powerful. It’s difficult to feel powerful unless you suddenly have more power than you once had or have much more power than the people around.
So, you don’t feel that power all the time. And it’s probably good that you don’t, because it might be crippling. But in terms of absolute, not relative, power you are basically a god. You can hold the sum of all human knowledge in the palm of your hand. If you’ve ever taken a hot shower on a cold day, you have experienced a luxury that the vast majority of humankind could never even dream of. …
There is one thing that I can definitely say about the world as it exists right now: we are, at this moment, both creating and solving problems faster than we ever have before. So your job—the only thing anyone can ask of you as a human—is to solve more problems than you create. Also, take care of yourself and and have a good time, ideally. But you are very powerful, and you can make your world and yourself better. So, do that.
… I also live in a world that was created by the actions of people. … Our culture is just the collective actions and decisions of people.
And that culture is, at this point, the single most important factor in the health and sustainability our species. And we all get to collectively decide what that culture is.
Now, it might feel like we have no control of this. That we’re at the whims of what has come before. That we’re destined to end up in a cut-throat world of ever-increasing inequality. But not if we decide to not live in that world. Not if we choose compassion.
We collectively decide what world we’re going to live in by being that world. That’s the real power you have. It’s not your job, and it’s not your bank account. It’s a power that every human has. Every human ever has had. And it has nothing to do with immortality or fame. And yet, I think that it might be the most important thing that every person does.
The reason we educate ourselves and improve ourselves is so that we can be more effective at making these positive changes. At creating more solutions then problems. Because in the end, your actions are what build our world. So don’t take that for granted.