And as many of you have New Orleans in your years, and maybe your lives, some of us have at Apple New Orleans in our blood as well. When I was a student at Auburn, Big Easy was our favorite vacation. It's amazing how fast the 363 miles fly when driving for a weekend of beignets and beers. And how slowly they go in the opposite direction. Apple's own Lisa Jackson is a proud Tulane alum. Yes. She took Green Wave all the way to Cupertino where she leads our environment and work politics. We are thrilled to have their talent and leadership on our team.
OK, enough about us. Let's talk about you. At moments like this, it always humiliates me to see a community come together to teach, guide, give advice, and finally say with a voice, congratulations to class 2019!
Now there is another very important group: your family and friends. The people who more than anyone else loved, supported and even sacrificed a lot to help you reach that moment. Let's give them a round of applause. This will be my first advice. You can't appreciate until much later in your life, how much this moment means to them. Or how that relationship between commitment, love, and duty between you is more important than anything else.
Actually, that's what I really want to talk to you about today. In a world where we obsessively document our own lives, most of us pay little attention to what we owe to each other. Now it's not just about calling your parents more, even though I'm sure they would be grateful if you did. It's about recognizing that human civilization began when we realized we could do more together. That the threats and the danger outside the flickering lighthouse became smaller when we grew bigger. And that we could create more – more prosperity, more beauty, more wisdom, and a better life – when we recognize certain shared truths and act collectively.
Perhaps I'm biased, but I've always thought of the South, and especially the Gulf Coast has been particularly hung on this wisdom better than most. [TimCookvoksteoppi Robertsdale, Alabama, located about an hour from New Orleans and close to the Gulf of Mexico.] In this part of the country your neighbors see you if they haven't heard from you in a while. Good news travels fast because your victories are their victories as well. And you can't make it through any front door until they give you a home-cooked meal.
Maybe you haven't thought about it very much, but these values have also informed you about the Tulane education. Just look at the motto: not for one's self, but for one's own. You've been fortunate to live, learn, and grow in a city where human currents blend into something magical and unexpected. How unsurpassed beauty, natural beauty, literary beauty, musical beauty, cultural beauty, seems like spring unexpectedly from bayou. The people of New Orleans use two tools to build this city: the unlikely and the impossible. Wherever you go, don't forget the lessons of this place. Life will always find many ways to tell you no, you can't, you shouldn't, you'd be better off if you didn't try. But New Orleans teaches that there is nothing more beautiful or worth more than trying. Especially when we don't do it in service for one's self, but one's own.
For me it was what searched for larger purposes that led me to Apple in the first place. I had a comfortable job at a company called Compaq which at that time looked like it was going to be on top forever. As it turns out, most of you are probably too young to remember their name. But in 1998, Steve Jobs convinced me to leave Compaq behind to join a bankrupt company. They made computers, but at least people were not interested in buying them. Steve had a plan to change things. And I wanted to be part of it.
It wasn't just about the iMac, or the iPod, or everything that came after. It was about the values that brought these inventions to life. The idea of putting powerful tools in the hands of everyday life helps to release creativity and move humanity forward. That we can build things that help us imagine a better world and then make it a reality.
There is a saying that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. At Apple I learned that it was a total crock. You will work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands. When you go out into the world, don't waste time on issues that have been resolved. Don't be hung up on what others say is convenient. Instead, you should steer the ship into the choppy seas. Look for the tough places, the problems that seem too big, the complexity that other people are happy to work around. It is in these places that you find your purpose. That's where you can make your biggest contribution. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of being too careful. Don't assume that by staying, the ground will not move under your feet. Status quo will not last. So get to work on building something better.
In some important ways, my generation has failed you in this regard. We spent too much time on debate. We have been too focused on the fight and not focused enough on progress. And you don't have to look far to find an example of that error. Here today, in this place, in an arena where thousands once found desperate shelter from a 100-year catastrophe, the kind that seems to happen more and more often, I don't think we can talk about who we are as humans and what we owe each other without talking about climate change.
[applause] Thank you. Thanks.
This problem will not be easier based on which side wins or loses a choice. It is about who has won the lottery of life and wants to ignore this problem and who stands to lose everything. The coastal communities, including some here in Louisiana, are already planning to leave the places they have called home for generations and leading to higher ground. The fishermen whose net comes up empty. Wildlife preserves with less wildlife. The marginalized, for whom a natural disaster can mean lasting poverty.
Just ask Tulane's own Molly Keogh, who gets his Ph.D. this weekend. Her important new research shows that rising sea levels are devastating areas in southern Louisiana more dramatically than anyone had expected. Tulane is educated, these are people's homes. Their livelihood. The country where their grandparents were born lived and died.
When we talk about climate change or a human cost problem, and there are many, I challenge you to look for those who have the most to lose and find the real, true empathy that comes from something shared. It's really what we owe to each other. When you do, the political noise dies down and you can feel your feet well planted on solid ground. After all, we do not build monuments on trolls and we will not start now.
If you find yourself spending more time fighting than getting to work, stop and ask yourself, who benefits from all the chaos. There are some who want you to believe that the only way you can be strong is to bulldoze those who disagree or never give them a chance to say their peace in the first place. That the only way you can build your own achievements is to tear down the other side.
We sometimes forget that our formerly existing beliefs have their own gravity. Today, some algorithms draw against you the things you already know, think or like, and they push away everything else. Press back. It shouldn't be that way. But in 2019 your eyes open and see things in a new way, it can be a revolutionary action. Call courage not only to hear, but to hear. Not just to act but to act together.
It can sometimes feel like the odds are stacked against you, it's not worth it, the critics are too persistent and the issues are too big. But the solutions to our problems begin on a human scale by building a common understanding of the work that is going on and reconciling it. At least we owe it to each other to try.
It has worked before. In 1932, the US economy was in free fall. Twelve million people were unemployed, and conventional wisdom said the only thing you should do was ride it out, wait, and hope things would turn around. But the governor of New York, a rising star named Franklin Roosevelt, refused to wait. He challenged the status quo and urged action. He needed people to stop their rosy thinking, meeting the facts, pulling together, and helping out of a jam. He said: "The country requires bold, sustained experiments. It makes sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it and try another. But above all, try something."
This was a speech to students scared of their future in an uncertain world. He said, "Yours is not the task of making the road in the world, but the task of remake the world." The bold empathy of young people, the spirit that says we should live not only for ourselves, but for ourselves. It's the way forward. From climate change to immigration, from criminal justice to economic opportunity, be motivated by your duty to build a better world. Young people have changed the history of history over and over. And now it's time to change it again.
I know, I know it's important that truth is with you today. Feel great because no one can make you feel strong. Feel brave because the challenges we face are great, but you're bigger. And feel grateful because someone sacrificed to make this moment possible for you. You have clear eyes and a long life to use them. And here at this stage I can feel your courage.
Call on your gravel. Try something. You can succeed. You can fail. But make it your life's work to recreate the world because it is nothing more beautiful or more valuable than working on leaving something better for humanity.
Many thanks and congratulations class 2019!