前立法會議員、香港眾志創黨主席羅冠聰本月22日由英國奔赴美國，參加美國W&J College（華盛頓傑斐遜學院 (Washington & Jefferson College)頒發的該學院今屆唯一的一個榮譽博士學位，25日，羅冠聰在社交平台上載他的演講稿中英文兩個版本全文，並發文寫道：「畢業典禮演講後獲起立致敬 『我們的前路，由我們決定』。在獲頒榮譽博士前所發表畢業演講歷時頗長，能讓我深入地發表對人生的感悟，事後不僅獲得罕見的全場Standing Ovation，更有很多家長、學生前來表示自己獲得啟發。」
1. 在演講開首時也蹭了Taylor Swift的熱度，她在紐約大學的畢業演講獲得了空前關注，先以此先吸引學生的注意力。
早晨 ！我是羅冠聰。如果你們正在期待Taylor Swift大駕光臨，很抱歉，這裏畢竟不是紐約。撇開這些玩笑，我還是在思考為何我會發表這篇講辭──一篇記載你們在華盛頓傑斐遜學院完成學業的講辭。典型的畢業典禮致辭者是政府官員、文化巨星、實業家、知名學者等等…
May 21, 2022
President Knapp, honorable guests, graduates, ladies and gentlemen, and anyone in between or not bound by it:
Good morning, my name is Nathan Law. For those of you expecting Taylor Swift on stage, please know that this is, unfortunately, not the New York vibe. All kidding aside, I am still making sense of why I am delivering this speech — the one speech that marks the end of your studies here at Washington and Jefferson College. The typical commencement speaker is a government official, a cultural icon, an inspirational entrepreneur, a sophisticated intellectual — and the list goes on.
Yet, I am nothing like them. I don't have the charm, nor the fame, nor the wealth. In fact, I am just like most of you: a young person finding his way through this journey called “life.” If you were expecting a success story, then I would have to let you down. My life is full of struggles and failures. And that is essentially the life of an activist fighting against almost impossible odds. We pursue ideas that fundamentally challenge our society. We devote parts of our lives to collective goals that make our communities and the world a better place. But we rarely see immediate results.
Most of the time, we find failures difficult to swallow. For me, because of my fight for democracy in Hong Kong, I was arrested a few times. Back in 2016, I was elected as the youngest legislator in Hong Kong's history, yet the Chinese government soon intervened to unseat me. I spent parts of 2017 locked up in a prison cell, And since I left the city just before the sweeping National Security Law, imposed by Beijing, went into effect in 2020, I am now a wanted fugitive. I can never go back to Hong Kong: the city I love and call home — at least not until it’s democratized. After I went into exile, given the Chinese government's long record of persecuting families of dissidents, I had to issue a statement severing ties with my family members to protect their safety, The goal of achieving democracy, freedom, and justice in Hong Kong, or even in China, is an ambitious dream, a destination that seems so far, far away, if it is ever reachable.
As such, I know a lot about failure. I know even more about dealing with failure and growing stronger after defeats. I know about the feeling that it may take a long time, longer than we can ever imagine, to see hope, but I nevertheless continue to try. And I understand perhaps more than anyone else that a person's value and self-worth are not always based on how the world commonly defines "success." I don't have money; I don't have power. What I do have is a criminal record that follows me around because of protest-related cases. I feel insecure all the time. But what I think ultimately matters is that in your heart, you know what you treasure and you know what you are willing to sacrifice for.
My life will be full if I realize the dream of democracy and freedom in Hong Kong. But my life is not empty without it, and I am always proud of the hurdles I have overcome, and what I have achieved along the way. The result does not define you as a person; the process does. To live a meaningful life, I think, is to fight for what you believe in, and when you grow old with gray hair or probably all of them are gone, you look in the mirror, and don't hate the person you see.
There is no need for me to remind you here of the importance of perseverance and determination. You have all been through years of hard work to get to this point. Today, you have earned your degree that you most definitely deserve.
Congratulations! I am sure many people in your life — family, friends, professors — have told you that the future is bright, that the adventures that lie ahead of you will be exciting. I want to echo them. This is a big day for you.
Now, while I do not want to rob this moment of celebration from you, neither do I want unrealistic. Every once in a while, things will not turn out the way you hope or expect. Most of our lives will inevitably comprise setbacks, and they may occupy a large part of your life. Please know that you will be fine.
Precisely because life can offer you so much you can never expect — both for the better and worse — that's why you need to be prepared. I like to think of myself as a peer, a young person like all of you. But in my 28 years of life so far, I have learned a few lessons that are crucial to becoming the person I am today and to reflecting honestly about myself. I hope you will allow me to share some of these with you.
1. No matter how good a person you are, or how excellent your performance is, there are always people who hate you.
a. Your work is not going to please everyone. The path toward greatness always comes with challenging existing ideas and upsetting people who do not want change. If there are hostile people standing in front of you, it does not necessarily mean that you are wrong; it could be precisely because you are right. If you know what you are doing, keep doing it.
b. A life without challenges is meaningless. You must be prepared for this, and get ready to take the hit. You can be frustrated, disheartened, or distressed by it – but never feel hopeless and stop fighting. Develop a mechanism that shields you from criticism that aims at destroying you. You have to stick to your beliefs and keep going.
2. Find your passion in life.
a. Your passion is what saves you when you feel low.
b. Find something you can dig into when you are down: Playing computer games, gardening, writing poems… anything that does not help with your life goals or work, but means a lot to you.
c. This is the escape and healing zone that you need when you are hurt, sad, or lost. You always need a safe space where you can pour your energy into, while you don’t have to compare or compete with anyone else.
3. You need to rebel.
a. You need defiance because you are unique. You have your own ideas, faith, and things that matter to you. Sometimes you feel like you are a triangle trapped into a square box, and you need to yell.
b. Rebellion is a way to express, to communicate, and to make the world a better place. But you should not rebel because you find it cool or just do not want to listen to others.
c. You always rebel for ideas, a collective future, something that is much bigger than yourself. It will push you to become a better person, to live a life with purpose.
d. Rebel for love. The love for life, for your community, for your friends…. Love is what supports us to go through turmoil, and grow stronger in and out.
4. Learn to identify and to welcome constructive criticism, including from your most ferocious critics.
a. Some criticisms are there to destroy you, some can help you grow.
b. In adversity and defeat, find opportunities to learn and to grow stronger as a person. Learn lessons to be better prepared the next time. See each setback as a test of your commitment, each challenge as a test of character. Remain calm if you can, and if you feel you’re losing control, try to seek out the time and space that will allow for perspective.
c. You also have to be committed. Don't give up because you are scared of failing. But learn to give up when you are brave enough to admit mistakes and amend errors.
5. Go into the unknown.
a. To explore, to risk, to unfold the unseen.
b. The world is completely unpredictable – we are still going through an unprecedented global pandemic, a war in Europe initiated by a dictator, even the shortage of baby formula is driven by polarized politics…. Many of these are unimaginable.
c. But they happen. What you have learned in the classroom does not necessarily equip you to predict and to be comfortable about the future. There are no model answers, no predestined paths ahead of you.
d. Life always takes unexpected turns, and sometimes they are not necessarily bad. I grew up in a blue-collar family. My father was a builder and my mother was a cleaner. I learned to keep my head down and not to rock the boat. It was only after many, many unexpected turns in my life that shaped who I am, and having a life that is much more meaningful than I have ever expected.
d. Only by accepting the possibility of failures, breathing in the bravery to adventure, understanding the vulnerability of our status, and being ready to adapt can we create our own paths.
e. It may lead you somewhere you do not know or you are not familiar with, but it is a place that interests you and best responds to this ever-changing and unpredictable world.
Let me end on a personal note. Before entering college, I actually missed a year because my public exam results were not up to my expectations. I was upset at the time and felt like I failed and wasted a year of time. But it was actually because I postponed my enrollment to college that I happened to be in a position of student leadership in 2014, when the Umbrella Movement broke out. The massive protests marked a turning point when Hongkongers stood up and resisted in the face of blatant lies from the Chinese government. I stepped into the limelight and became a student activist from that point on. As they say, the rest was history.
Sometimes we feel like we are stuck in a bad spot. It is only in retrospect that we may realize it has been a gift all along. For me to be able to even stand here on this stage today is extremely unlikely. Inviting a Hong Kong activist to campus is not easy and certainly not without cost, let alone awarding me an honorary doctorate degree. So I want to acknowledge, once again, the entire Washington and Jefferson College community for your hospitality and friendship.
Where we go from here is up to us. I know I will keep carrying on, and I hope you will, too. Thank you for having me. Congratulations to the Class of 2022! @