Joss Whedon, the famous screenwriter behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, gave a commencement speech to the class of 2013 at Wesleyan University. He shared the words of the speaker at his own graduation, Bill Cosby, “You’re not going to change the world, so don’t try,” and promptly turned that advice, along with the clichéd advice you hear at almost every graduation, on its head.
Whedon tells us to embrace the contradictions. He touches on the way our body seems to directly contradict our brain’s ambitions (it just wants to make babies and turn into mulch, apparently). He also muses on the tension and contradiction that inherently exists as part of human connection, and asks us to see the value in it. And finally, he asks us to accept the contradictions that exist within us all. “You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself…To accept duality is to earn identity.”
As for changing the world?
“[T]hat’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is.”
You can hear the speech for yourself, or read some more of the transcribed sections over at brainpickings.