members of the Harvard Corporation and Board of Overseas,
全体教职人员 荣耀的家长们 以及全体毕业生们
members of faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates,
the first thing I would like to say is thank you.
not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour,
but the weeks of fear and nausea I’ve endured.
At the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight.
A win-win situation!
Now all I have to do is take deep breaths,
squint at the red banners,
and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindors’ reunion.
[Cheers and applause]
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility;
or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation.
那天做演讲的是英国著名的哲学家 Baroness Mary Warnock
The commencement speaker that day was distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock.
对她演讲的回忆 对我写今天的演讲稿 产生了极大的帮助
Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one,
because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said.
This liberating discovery enables me to proceed
without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you
to abandon promising carees in business, law or politics
for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
[laugh and applause]
If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke,
那就证明我已经超越了Baroness Mary Warnock
I’ve still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock.
[laugh and applause]
the first step to self-improvement.
I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today.
I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation,
and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years
that has expired between that day and this.
I have come up with two answers.
On this wonderful day when we are gathered together
to celebrate your academic success.
I have decided to talk to you
about the benefits of failure.
And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’,
I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
These may seem quixotical or paradoxical choices,
but bear with me.
Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation,
is a slightly unconfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become.
Half my lifetime ago,
I was striking an uneasy balance
between the ambition I had for myself,
and what those closest to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever
was to write novels.
However, my parents
both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds
and neither of whom had been to college
took the view that my overactive imagination
was an amusing personal quirk
that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.
我现在明白了 讽刺就像用卡通铁砧去打你 但……
They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree;
They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree;
I wanted to study English Literature.
最后 虽然双方都不甚满意 但还是互相妥协
A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody,
and I set up to study modern languages.
Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the coner at the end of the road,
than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.
I can not remember telling my parents that I was studying classics;
They might have found out for the first time on graduation day.
我想 他们也许认为 在保证一间豪华浴室方面
Of all the subjects on this planet,
I think they would be hard to put to name one less useful than Greek mythology,
when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.
Now I would like to make it clear in parenthesis,
that I do not blame my parents for their point of view.
There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction.
[Cheers and applause]
The moment you areold enough to take the wheel,
responsibility lies with you.
What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty
They have been poor themselves,
and I have since been poor,
I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience.
Proverty entails fear, and stress and sometimes depression;
it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.
Climbing out of poverty by your own effects,
That is indeed something on which to pride yourself,
but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.
What I fear most for myself at your age,
was not poverty, but failure.
At your age, in spite of distinct lack of motivation at university,
where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories,
and far too little time at lectures.
I had a knack for passing examinations,
and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.
Now I am not dull enough to suppose that
because you are young, gifted, and well-educated,
you have never known hardship or heartbreak.
Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the fates,
I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here
has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.
However, the fact you graduation from Harvard
suggests that you are not very well- acquainted with failure.
You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as the desire of success.
说实话 你们眼中的失败 很可能和普通人
Indeed, your conceptions of failure might not be too far
from the average person’s idea of success.
so high have you already flown academically.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure.
but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criterion if you let it.
so I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure,
a mere 7 years after my graduation day,
I had failed on an epic scale.
An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded,
and I was jobless, a lone parent,
and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.
the fears that my parents had had for me and that I had had for myself
had both come to pass,
and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
现在 我不打算站在这里告诉你们 失败是有趣的
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun.
That period of my life was a dark one,
and I had no idea that it was going to be
what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution.
I have no idea then how far the tunnel extented,
很长一段时间里 任何黑暗尽头的光亮都只是希望 而不是现实
and for a long time,any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure?
Simply because failure means a stripping away of the inessential.
I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was,
and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found
the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believed I truly belonged.
I was set free,
because my greatest fear had been realised,
and I was still alive,
and I still had a daughter whom I adored,
and I had an old typewriter and a big idea,
and so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
you might never fail on the scale I did,
but some failure in life is inevitable.
It’s impossible to live without failing at something,
unless you live so cautiously
that you might as well not have lived at all,
in which case, you fail by default.
failure gave me an inner security
that I have never attained by passing examinations.
Failure talked me things about myself that I could have learned no other way.
I discovered that I had strong will
and more discipline than I had suspected.
I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks
means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.
You will never truly know yourself,
or the strength of your relationships
until both have been tested by adversity.
Such knowledge is true gift,
for all that it is painfully won,
and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever owned.
so give me a time turner, I will tell my 21 year old self
so give me a time turner, I will tell my 21 year old self
that personal happiness lies in knowing
that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.
your qualifications, your cv, are not your life.
though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse two.
生活是艰辛的 复杂的 超出任何人的控制能力
life is difficult and complicated and beyond anyone’s total control.
and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes
Now you might think I chose my second theme-the importance of imagenation,
because of the part it play in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so.
Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp,
I have learned to value the imagenation in a much broader sense.
Imagenation is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not,
and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation.
And its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity,
It is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded
Harry Potter. Though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books.
This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs.
Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours,
I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in
the research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.
There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out
of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking
imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them.
I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace,
sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends.
I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries.
I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts
of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.
Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners,
people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile,
because they had the temerity to think independently of their government.
Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information,
or to try and find out what had happened to those who they had left behind.
I shall never forget the African torture victim,
a young man no older than I was at that time
who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland.
He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera
about the brutality inflicted upon him.
He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child.
Iwas given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards,
and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty
took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.
And as long as I live I shall remember walking along
walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door,
a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since.
The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head
and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her.
She had just given him the news that
that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime,
his mother had been seized and executed.
Every day of my working week in my early 20s
I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was,
to live in a country with a democratically elected government,
where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.
每一天 我都能看到更多证据 恶人们为了获得
Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind
will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power.
I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares,
about some of the things I saw, heard and read.
And yet I also learned more about human goodness
at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.
Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been
tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have.
The power of human empathy,
引发集体行动 拯救生命 解放囚犯
leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners.
Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured,
携手合作 大量挽救那些他们互不相识 素昧平生的人
join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet.
My small participation in that process was one of
the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.
Unlike any other creature on this planet,
humans can learn and understand, without having experienced.
They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.
当然 这种能力 就像我虚构的魔法世界一样
Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral.
One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control,
just as much as to understand or sympathise.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all.
They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience,
never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have
been born other than they are.
They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages;
they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally;
they can refuse to know.
I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way,
except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do.
Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia,
and that brings its own terrors.
I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters.
They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathise may
enable real monsters.
For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves,
we collude with it, through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned at the end of
that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18,
in search of something I could not then define,
was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch:
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
That is an astonishing statement
and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives.
It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world,
the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.
但是 哈佛大学的2008届毕业生们 你们多少人
But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008,
likely to touch other people’s life?
your intelligence, you capacity for hard work,
the education you have earned and received,
give you unique status and unique responsibilities.
Even your nationality sets you apart.
The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower.
你们选举的方式 你们生活的方式 你们抗议的方式
the way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest,
the pressure you bring to your government has an impact way beyond your borders.
That is your privilege, and your burden.
If you choose to use your status and influence
to raise your voice on behalf of whose who have no voice right;
if you choose not only with powerful but with powerless,
if you retain the ability to imagine yourself
into the lives of those who do not have your advantages,
then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence,
but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change.
We do not need magic to change our world,
we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already:
we have the power to imagine better.
I am nearly finish.
I have one last hope for you,
which something that I already had at 21.
The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life.
They are my children’s godparents,
the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble,
friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I take their names for Death Eaters.
At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection,
by our shared experience at the time that could never come again.
当然 我们也知道 要是我们中的某一个去竞选首相
and of couse, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence
that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.
So today I wish you nothing better than similar friendships.
And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine,
you remember those of Seneca,
another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor,
in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life:
not how long it is,
but how good it is,
is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.
Thank you very much.