耶鲁校长苏必德在“当世界身陷火海”（When the World Is on Fire）的开学演讲中，通过一个犹太智者的故事，给了我们答案：改变世界之前，先改变自己。
Good morning! To all Eli Whitney students, transfer students, visiting international students, and first-year Yale College students: Welcome to Yale!
Let me begin by saying it is good to see you here today.
Many families and loved ones are watching today’s ceremonies online. On behalf of my colleagues here on stage and the entire Yale community, I want to extend a warm greeting to everyone joining us, wherever you are right now.
This is a big moment—for you, our newest students, and for Yale.
I am so glad you are here.
51年前，耶鲁大学校长金曼·布鲁斯特（Kingman Brewster Jr.）发表开学演讲，欢迎本科新生来到耶鲁，正如我现在欢迎你们一样。那时，耶鲁经历了非比寻常的一年。我们可以把当下和1970年5月联系起来。彼时，成千上万的人从美国各地来到纽黑文、来到耶鲁，抗议对黑豹党（Black Panther Party）领袖修伊·牛顿（Huey Newton）和西尔（Bobby Seale）被控谋杀罪的审判。由于预计抗议活动很可能会演变为暴力事件，数千名国民警卫队被提前部署在这里。局势紧张，一触即发。幸运的是，理智占了上风，抗议活动基本保持和平，无人受重伤，更无人死亡。
Fifty-one years ago, university president Kingman Brewster Jr. delivered an address to the entering class of new undergraduates, welcoming them to Yale, as I am doing now. At the time, the university was coming out of a very unusual year. (We can relate!) Just a few months earlier, in May 1970, tens of thousands of people from across the country had come to New Haven—and to Yale—to protest the trials of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins, leaders of the Black Panther Party, who were being tried for murder. Thousands of National Guard troops had been deployed to the city as some expected the protests to turn violent. The situation was extremely tense. Fortunately, reason prevailed, the protests remained largely peaceful, and no one was seriously injured, let alone killed.
Still, these events rocked Yale’s campus. War was raging in Southeast Asia. Movements for civil rights and women’s rights were heading in new directions, and across society it seemed like a younger generation was rising up to challenge the old guard. Against this backdrop, many people were wondering about Yale’s future. They were uncertain about the university’s role—its purpose—in a rapidly changing and unpredictable society.
Standing here today, I am feeling many of the same emotions that President Brewster must have felt in 1970. Looking out over that gathering of new students, he knew many of them were anxious; he knew they had questions about what they would do at Yale and many more about the kind of society they would encounter when they graduated. Yet, in his speech, he was asking them to study, go to the library, write papers, and conduct experiments. He was asking them to be students.
And so he gave voice to a question that was probably on the minds of many, a question I also pose to you today. He asked, “Where then is the purpose which makes patient learning supportable when the world is on fire?”
Today, again, it seems like the world is on fire, literally and metaphorically. The United States is in the midst of its greatest crisis since 9/11. We are fighting a global pandemic, which will be, for many of us, the most significant geopolitical, and perhaps personal, event of our lives.
But that is not all. This summer we have witnessed terrible wildfires, drought, and flooding in many corners of the globe. Some of you have experienced these climate disasters firsthand. Not only climate change but also racism, extremism, the widening gulf between rich and poor—these are complex challenges that call out for urgent and concerted action.
The world is on fire, and again we ask, what is our purpose here? And how do we learn—patiently, seriously, and rigorously, as I sincerely hope you will—in times such as these?
In thinking about the answer to this question, I was reminded of Musar, a nineteenth-century Jewish movement that came out of Lithuania, very close to where my ancestors were rabbis. The central idea of the Musar movement—and of similar religious and ethical practices beyond Judaism—is that we must improve ourselves before looking outward at society seeking to change it. We must examine our values, expand our knowledge, and develop empathy and imagination.
One of the rabbis of the time is said to have told this story: “I set out to try to change the world, but I failed. So I decided to scale back my efforts and only try to influence the Jewish community of Poland, but I failed there, too. So I targeted the community in my hometown of Radin [now in Belarus], but achieved no greater success. Then I gave all my effort to changing my own family and failed at that as well. Finally, I decided to change myself, and that’s how I had such an impact on the…world.”
Much like this sage, we are here to make an impact on our communities and our world. But first we must start by improving ourselves. Your college years are a time to develop your strengths and talents; to challenge yourself in ways you did not think possible; to gain knowledge and understanding; and to explore. Here at Yale, you will encounter new ideas and engage with people from different backgrounds and walks of life. You will take intellectual risks, and ask questions about everything from the structure of the cosmos to the structure of a novel.
Improving yourself means leaving your comfort zone. Sign up for a class that sounds interesting but unfamiliar. Go to office hours with slightly intimidating professors; you may be surprised by the conversation that unfolds. Attend talks by speakers whose views are different than yours—and really listen to their arguments. Regardless of what you study or the clubs you join, I promise that you will not leave Yale the same person you are today. You will be changed, transformed, by Yale.
We know that you are ready for these challenges, and we are excited to see what contributions you will make to Yale; how you will write new chapters in our shared history in the coming days, weeks, and years.
回首1970年那个春天，我想起四位耶鲁大学的学生，他们和其他人在一起在抗议活动中发挥了关键作用：库尔特·施莫克（Kurt Schmoke）、拉尔夫·道森（Ralph Dawson）、比尔·法利（Bill Farley）和格伦·德·夏伯（Glenn de Chabert）。他们都是认真严谨的学生，积极建立并领导了耶鲁的黑人学生联盟；其中两人被授予罗德学者（Rhodes Scholars）。那个春天，与校长金曼·布鲁斯特、校长特助山姆·昌西（Sam Chauncey）以及其他耶鲁大学的管理人员一起，这些学生在危机时刻表现出了堪称楷模的领导力，在帮助维护校园秩序方面发挥了重要作用，甚至可能拯救了无数生命。
Thinking back to that spring of 1970, I am reminded of four Yale College students who, with others, played a pivotal role in the May Day events: Kurt Schmoke, Ralph Dawson, Bill Farley, and Glenn de Chabert. They were serious students and active in founding and leading the Black Student Alliance at Yale. Two would be named Rhodes Scholars. That spring, along with Kingman Brewster, his special assistant Sam Chauncey, and other administrators, these students showed exemplary leadership during a time of crisis and were instrumental in helping keep the peace on campus, most likely saving lives.
The world was on fire, but their time at Yale prepared them to tackle important challenges after graduation: one as a big-city mayor and university president, others as distinguished attorneys; all as engaged community members. Like generations of alumni, these Yalies were deeply committed to making themselves better, making the university better, and making the world better.
你们也在这样一个历史性时刻加入了耶鲁这个大家庭。此刻我们四周仍被大大小小的火海包围。我想象不出有比此时在耶鲁学习更好的时机了。我们将在新的学年继续践行承诺，培育这所大学及大学中的每一个人。你很快就会发现，耶鲁人热爱学习。他们寻求新的体验，全身心投入于他们所做的一切。在耶鲁，你可以和顶级公共卫生专家学习，他们为政府提供应对疫情的建议；你可以和普利策奖得主、研究弗雷德里克·道格拉斯（Frederick Douglass）的历史学家或研究约翰·弥尔顿（John Milton）的权威泰斗一起参加研讨会；你可以和校园里1200多个实验室的教员一起进行研究。
You, too, are joining the Yale community at a historic moment. We are surrounded on all sides by fires small and large. And yet I can think of no better moment to be at Yale. We begin this academic year with a renewed commitment to nurture this community and the people in it. Yalies, you will soon discover, love to learn. They seek out new experiences, and they immerse themselves fully in everything they do. At Yale, you can study with top public health experts who are advising governments on the pandemic response. You can take a seminar with a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of Frederick Douglass or a leading authority on John Milton. You can conduct research alongside faculty members in over 1,200 laboratories on campus.
Yale’s great strength—now, as always—is that we learn from and are inspired by one another. Although we come from different places, we share a common purpose: to improve ourselves, so that we can improve the world. Yale’s mission statement expresses our highest ambitions. It says, in part, “Yale is committed to improving the world today and for future generations,” and “Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society.”
You are those aspiring leaders, and this mission is our answer to the question my predecessor asked over fifty years ago. I believe the “patient learning” President Brewster spoke of means deep engagement in your studies; it means challenging your thoughts and beliefs; it means expanding the frontiers of knowledge—your own, and the world’s. It means using your time at Yale to prepare for the trials ahead. In this sense, patient learning is not only supportable but essential if we are to fulfill Yale’s mission and, indeed, improve the world.
我将以我最爱的民谣歌手之一——伍迪·格思里（Woody Guthrie）在其歌曲《当世界深陷火海》（World’s on Fire）中所写的歌词作为结语。他的话非常适用于当下：”当天空正在放晴，我们的梦想苏醒，从废墟中重建我们的城市。”
I will end with lyrics written by one of my favorite folk singers, Woody Guthrie, in his song, “World’s on Fire.” His words are only too applicable: “While the skies they’re clearing / We’ll rise up dreaming; / Build our city from the ashes.”
Yes, the world is on fire, but right in front of me, I see many reasons for optimism. Together, as part of this community, you will dream, you will build, and you will prepare for lives of leadership and service.
Welcome to Yale!