What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.
But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret.
I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.
I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.
But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.
William Henry (Bill) Gates III
Harvard Commencement Speech
I find the following points worth noting:
- How is it that a man at the “extreme wealth” end of the inequity scale finally has come to the conclusion that reducing inequity – of which he is to some a symbol – is the highest human achievement?
Must the rest of us wait to become as comparably wealthy to believe this?
- We should also learn that from the fact that a man who exemplifies technological advancement says that human discovery – of which technological advancement is a subset – is only important as it assists in the reduction of inequity. More on this later in the speech.