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'Good Luck Out There, Kids! You Will Need It!'

May 31, 2000

As college students don their caps and gowns in a ritual to signal their transition into the "real world," commencement speakers try to offer up a few pearls of wisdom. Some deliver an unabashed pep talk; others vainly attempt to peer into the future. A few talk about personal experiences and try to divine a life's lesson. Most try to persuade students to cling to their youthful dreams while they get whiplashed by life's hard realities. Here are a few excerpts.

Isabel Allende, author Mills College, May 13, 2000

Now it is your turn. Maybe you will achieve more than a few changes, maybe you will really transform the world. Don't be modest! Your goal should be a revolution of the spirit that will bring humankind to a higher level of evolution. I can see it in your faces: This woman is a preacher! A lunatic! No, I am just a storyteller. In my pursuit as a writer I have found out how important dreams are. How can you make changes if you don't start by imagining them?

I am proud to say that I don't belong to the club of desperate intellectuals. I don't think that the end of the world is near. I am convinced that just as we can destroy the world, we can save it and improve it. I don't feel paralyzed by the knowledge of my own insignificance. I trust the young generation that comes behind me. I trust you! Starting tomorrow you will be out there with your college degree, ready to take your share of responsibility for the future, and I am sure that you will do a good job.

The time has come for prophets, for artists, for intellectuals, for visionary politicians and ideologists, for scientists, and for all the young people with open minds and gentle hearts. Your mission is to dream the future. You have to create the ethics of the second millennium. I want to be part of that team, too, and contribute to a real revolution of the spirit. Let's all join efforts in the beautiful task of inventing a more benevolent world where love for each other and love for this planet and its creatures will prevail.

Good luck out there, kids! You will need it!

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