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一年一度毕业季 筹备毕业演讲

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一年一度毕业季 筹备毕业演讲

It is that time of year when famous people put on baggy black capes and peculiar hats in order to hold forth on university lawns to thousands of students and their parents.
每年的这个时节,名人们披上宽松的黑色斗篷,头戴奇怪的帽子,在大学草坪上对着成千上万的学生和家长们高谈阔论。

But this time something strange has happened. Each of the big-name speakers seems to have hit on the identical homily for their commencement addresses: they are all telling graduates to make the world a better place.
不过今年有点奇怪。每个大名鼎鼎的演说者似乎都碰巧在毕业典礼演讲中谈到了同样的主题——他们都告诉毕业生,要让世界变得更美好。

So there was Arianna Huffington at Smith College saying “what I urge you to do is not just take your place at the top of the world, but to change the world”.
阿里安娜•赫芬顿(Arianna Huffington)在史密斯学院(Smith College)表示:“我奉劝你们,不要只想着成为世界顶尖人物,还要改变这个世界。”

The actress Kerry Washington told students at her alma mater George Washington University (after telling them she loved them, twice): “The world needs your voice. Every single one of you.”
女演员凯丽•华盛顿(Kerry Washington)在其母校乔治•华盛顿大学(George Washington University)——在两次告诉学生她爱他们之后——表示:“世界需要你们的声音,需要你们中每个人的声音。”

And then this, from Jeff Immelt, head of General Electric, at the University of Connecticut: “Graduates should be optimistic; believe in better. The world awaits your leadership.”
还有这个,通用电气(General Electric)董事长杰夫•伊梅尔特(Jeff Immelt)在康涅狄格大学(University of Connecticut)讲道:“毕业生应该乐观,应该相信世界会变得更美好。世界在等待着你们的领导。”

Any student who has learnt anything at all in their time at university will be able to spot the hogwash. The world has 7bn voices to listen to already – it won’t be bothered about one more or less. Neither is it clear why graduates should be especially optimistic, especially at the moment. The world doesn’t await their leadership; only a tiny minority will get the chance to lead anything, apart, perhaps, from themselves.
每个在大学时光中学了点东西的学生都能发现这些言论中的废话。全世界已经有70亿人的声音,多一个还是少一个根本不算什么。为什么毕业生尤其应该乐观也不清楚,特别是在当下这个时候。世界并没等着他们领导,也许只有极少数人有机会领导除自己以外的任何东西。

Far better – and much snappier – advice was given by Stephen Colbert to students at the University of Virginia. The satirist started by ordering everyone to make sure their cell phones were turned on: “Take a moment to follow my Twitter feed in case I tweet anything during my speech.” I hope the graduates took heed: I felt chastened when I just watched it on YouTube.
斯蒂芬•科尔伯特(Stephen Colbert)在弗吉尼亚大学(University of Virginia)向学生们提出的建议就恰当得多,也时髦得多。这位讽刺演员一开场就嘱咐大家把手机都开着:“花点时间关注下我的推特(Twitter)账户,以免我在演讲期间发布任何推特消息。”我希望毕业生们听从了这一建议——我在YouTube上看这个演讲的视频时就感觉到受教了。

Alas, he then went and spoiled it all by telling the students to “choose the hard path that leads to the life and the world that you want”. But who says the hard path is a better bet than the easy one? And as to the world that we want – that isn’t on offer. So the trick for graduates is surely to make do with the world we have.
唉,他接下来的话把这次演说完全毁掉了,他建议学生“选择那条通向你们想要的生活、想要的世界的艰难道路”。谁说艰难道路就一定是比轻松道路更好的选择?至于我们想要的世界——这东西概不出售。所以说,毕业生们需要掌握的显然是如何适应我们现在所处的世界。

Only Barack Obama in his address at Morehouse College refrained from urging anyone to change the world. That may be because he feels the world is his prerogative. Or it may be because he alone knows how hard it is to change it – even if you happen to be the President of the United States. Not only has he failed to change the world, he can’t even get people to give up guns or fix the budget in his own country.
只有巴拉克•奥巴马(Barack Obama)在莫尔豪斯学院(Morehouse College)的演讲中没有鼓励任何人改变世界。这可能是因为他觉得世界是他的职权所在。抑或是因为他自己知道改变世界有多难——就算你碰巧是美国总统也是如此。他不仅没能改变世界,他甚至都没能让他的人民放下枪支,也没能解决他自己国家的预算问题。

Instead of aiming so impossibly high, the graduates of 2013 would do better to start a bit lower. When they leave their campuses it will not be “Hello world!” but “Hello again, Mum and Dad!”
2013年的毕业生与其好高骛远,不如把起步的目标放低点可能更好。当他们离开校园时,他们可能会说的不是:“你好,世界!”而是“你们好,爸爸妈妈!”

This is the boomerang generation, and where most of them will be heading is straight back to their childhood bedrooms. What Ms Huffington, Mr Obama and Mr Immelt ought to have said was: change the world if you must, but it would be nice if you could help out by changing the bag in the vacuum cleaner first.
这是“飞去来器”的一代,他们中的多数人出校园后将径直回到他们儿时的卧室。赫芬顿、奥巴马和伊梅尔特应该说的是:如果你非要去做,那就去改变世界,不过先帮忙更换一下吸尘器里的袋子也不错。

They should then have followed up with stern words on the virtue of hard work. This sort of thing has fallen sadly out of fashion.
接着,他们应讲讲赞美勤奋工作的逆耳忠言。可悲的是这些话如今已过时了。

When I had just graduated, my then boyfriend – who had been hired by investment bank Salomon Brothers – was instructed by the chief executive, John Gutfruend, to arrive every day “ready to bite the ass off of a bear”. The fact that I can remember his words three decades later is partly because I love the way Americans say “off of”, but it’s also because the advice was so good.
我刚毕业的时候,所罗门兄弟公司(Salomon Brothers)首席执行官约翰•古特弗洛恩德(John Gutfruend)告诉我当时的男朋友——那时他已被该投资银行聘用——每天上班要“准备摸老虎屁股(ready to bite the ass off of a bear)”。三十年后我还记得他的原话,这部分是因为我喜欢美国人说“off of”的方式,不过也是因为这条建议太棒了。

As well as changing their work ethic, graduates also need to change their employment status. They need jobs. What no one ever tells them in commencement addresses is that even a bad job is better than none at all.
毕业生除了要转变职业道德,还需要改变他们的就业状况。他们需要工作。没人在毕业典礼上告诉他们,坏工作也比没工作好。

I know a young graduate who has just been hired to hand out licences to taxi cabs in deepest south London. It’s dull, but it’s better than being unemployed, which is what she was before. Graduates should be told not to lose heart: as their working lives will last 50 or 60 years, a slow start is not a disaster.
我认识一位年轻的毕业生,她近期找到了一份工作:在伦敦最南部给出租车发牌照。这工作确实很无聊,但总比失业好——她之前就处于失业状态。应该有人告诉毕业生不要灰心:他们的职场生涯将持续五六十年,因此起步慢一点并不是灾难。

Mr Obama urged the Morehouse students to strive to become finer people and said he was himself trying to be a better father and a better husband. For a minute I thought this was quite sweet. But if you are president you should never say such an irresponsible thing to people just starting out. They need to know the truth: that you can either do a big job and try to change the world, or you can be a good father and husband. Each on its own is quite tricky. But both at the same time? Can’t be done.
奥巴马鼓励莫尔豪斯学院的学生要努力成为更好的人,他自己就在努力当好父亲、好丈夫。有那么一刻我觉得这话说得十分好。但既然你是总统,你永远都不该对这些人生刚刚起步的人说这样不负责任的话。他们需要知道真相——你要么完成宏图伟业并试图改变世界,要么当一个好父亲和好丈夫。做到这两件事本身的难度都很大。但同时做到这两点?没戏。