Bill Maher @ Berkeley 2014 Winter Commencement

Bill Maher @ Berkeley 2014 Winter Commencement

October 12, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


(clapping and cheering)
– Thank you very much. How you doing? Thank you. (chuckles) It’s pronounced mar. (audience laughing) But I’m still really thrilled to be here, this is your first graduation, this is my first commencement speech, so I’m as excited as you are. Anybody here a college graduate,
or is that just a rumor? Is anybody graduating college today? (scattered cheering)
Oh, I see, okay. Well, you’re both very
fortunate and very deserving, because I know this is
a school that demands academic excellence, and in a
way, we all start life twice. Once when we’re born, and
once when we leave school. Now, I found the first years of my life after graduating college to
be the hardest of my life, because in that second life
that you’re now starting, you are now the infants
in the adult world. You’re the youngest ones, the ones with the least experience, the
least power, the least control, unless your father is Bill
Gates or somebody like that, in which case, you may
not need this speech, but if not, I have been
given the privilege of talking to you for the first 15 minutes of your second life, it’s like
you just came out of the womb and I’m the doctor who
is slapping you now. (audience chuckling) So I’d like to take your first 15 minutes with the phones off, maybe
the last time in your life all the phones will be off,
to try to save you anguish by passing on to you the important lessons that I learned in my
life, to do anything else is really not to understand
why we’re here today after all the hard work that you put in in those buildings out there. This institution is all
about passing knowledge. You know, humans have
gotten as far as we have, because we’re selfish
about a lot of things, but not about knowledge. When humans learn something
good, they tend to pass it on. The guy who discovered how to make fire gave that shit away for free. I mean, at least until he figured out how to sell ad time on it. So the first thing you have
to know is, it goes fast. Your life. I’m gonna be 59 next month,
and I know what I thought of 59 when I was your age? I didn’t know much about it,
but I knew it was something that was never gonna happen to me! There was just too big of
a notion of time out there before I got there. No. It’s actually the blink of an eye. And because of that, people often say, “Make each second count.” Don’t. Don’t do that, that’s too much pressure. That sounds like one of those vacations where there’s something
scheduled every minute. No, actually, some of the
greatest times of your life were going to be just idly goofing around. Like I have to tell you,
a bunch of college kids! However, the other side of that is, don’t goof around too much. Taking time off to travel or
to find yourself, that’s cool, but if you do it til you’re 30, you’ll probably find it
harder to elbow your way into the rat race. Now, you may not wanna be in
the rat race, that’s cool, but it’s also cool if you
wanna be in the rat race, it doesn’t make you a rat! This is America, there’s nothing wrong with competitive people wanting to win, just do it, yes, there’s
nothing wrong with that, just do it with compassion
and perspective, not like a Republican. (cheering and groaning) I’m kidding, of course. No, keeping perspective is
maybe the most important way to stay sane throughout your life, and losing it, losing
perspective is a great way to sabotage what otherwise
could’ve been a really good life. Do you know that opinion polls this year, in America, were very bleak? People thought that this
country and the world in general were going to hell in a handcart. They saw a passenger plane just disappear. They saw a black-hooded ISIS fighters behead innocent people on YouTube. They learned that Ebola
can get across the globe in less than 24 hours. Unless it’s on United. Just a joke. (audience chuckling) My point is, we all lost perspective. The world seems scarier
than ever, but the facts, the truth is is that the world, although still very troubled,
is actually less violent, less engaged in war, and more prosperous than it’s ever been. As a species, we do seem to be advancing. And when I think about my own life, I feel very lucky that I was born in what proved to a real
sweet spot in history. I was born after electricity,
after antibiotics, and thank you Jesus, especially
after indoor toilets. I was born after those
things, but I was born before climate change and
environmental destruction could make life on Earth a living hell. Which could happen in your lifetime. You know, I’ve had my fun with the planet, but you need it to be
around and in good shape for another 50 years, so I
hope all of you here today consider the environment to be paramount among the many challenges we face, because unless we solve that issue, there are no other issues. (clapping) It’s true. We need a place to live! We’re humans, we need a crib! And the world desperately
needs a generation, your generation, to make this a priority, the way the Vietnam
generation on this very campus made stopping that war a priority. (clapping) Now, some people would say,
“Well, the Vietnam kids, “they had skin in the game,
they didn’t wanna get drafted.” You have skin in the game,
you don’t wanna get roasted! All over the world, we see the devastation that pollution is causing. Heatwaves, oceans that
are dying and rising, glaciers melting, species disappearing, droughts, wildfires, Frankenstorms, this is an awful lot for Pat Robertson to blame on gay sex. (audience laughing) We have no more time
for dithering on this. Here’s a lesson I learned. No politician is perfect,
but in every election in your life, there will one choice that is better than the others. Go out and vote for that one. (clapping) Make a difference, that’s what you owe everyone who came before you, and died so you could live free,
and that’s what you owe everyone who sacrificed
for you, like your parents. And it’s also what you owe yourself, ’cause you’ll feel a whole lot better if you do make a difference. And also, making a difference, making a difference is why I’m a liberal. Now, you don’t have to be a liberal, although, come on, it’s Berkeley, I think I can speak freely here. I mean, I hope I can! (audience laughing) (clapping and cheering) But let me say something about liberals, I think most liberals would agree that their liberalism
springs from one thing above all, compassion. Mine does, because that’s
how I was brought up, by two liberal parents. In my family, we were always
on the side of the underdog, and those who were being treated unfairly. I grew up in an all-white
town in the 1960s, but my parents made sure
that even as a little kid, I understood whose side we were on in the civil rights
battles that were going on. We were with Kennedy and
against Southern governors who wanted to stop certain people from merely going to school. (clapping and cheering)
Now… There are people in the world today who have the goal of stopping people from going to school, we see
it on the news all the time. But what my parents taught
me about Southern governors standing in doorways has
stayed with me my whole life, no matter who is getting the shaft, black people, the poor,
immigrants, gays, women, people who were bullied,
people getting raped in the military, the veterans, victims of police brutality, ahem, (clapping and cheering)
people getting poisoned by greedy corporations, you name it, in my house, the only thing we did not have tolerance for was intolerance. You don’t have to be a liberal,
but if you call yourself a liberal, you have to fight oppression, from wherever oppression comes from, especially of women, gays,
minorities, and free thinkers. (clapping and cheering) That’s what makes you a liberal! And that’s the last thing
I’m going to suggest to you, be a free thinker. One reason our politics is so screwed up is because everyone has become so tribal. As you go down the path
of life, ask what’s true, not who else believes it. (clapping and cheering) Be unique, stay vigilant
for busting yourself for falling into groupthink. Everything good and
smart started out mocked by the mainstream. Stephen Hawking once said,
“The thing about smart people “is that they seem to be
crazy people to dumb people.” (audience chuckling) Don’t be afraid to be a crazy person. (audience clapping and cheering) You know, I had a funny moment recently, I was sitting in a promo
meeting in my office, in television, at the
beginning of every new season, networks buy billboards
and TV ads for their shows, and they put on the
billboard some short, punchy advertising slogan like, he’s
a robot, she’s a lesbian, you know, but for my
show, and for what I do, over the years, we’ve had slogans like, enter at your own risk, or,
with this bill, you get change, some of them are lame, it’s true. But this year, the promo
department was showing us the new slogans for the new season, and I could tell they were a little afraid to show me the last one, and I said, come on, let me see, how bad could it be? It was a picture of
half my face, no smile, and it said, he’s not in it for the likes. I said, I love it! It’s so badass, it’s the best one ever, it’s exactly what I
wanted to grow up to be! Don’t be afraid to be a crazy person, and understand that the
truth is not always popular. I recognize that this university,
on the 50th anniversary of the Berkeley free speech movements made a statement by
choosing me for this speech, and I would like to say I appreciate that, and I’d also like to say, I think you made the right statement. (audience clapping and cheering) Never forget that we are lucky to live in a country that
has a First Amendment, and liberals should wanna own it the way conservatives own the Second. Thank you so much for having me, you’re gonna have great lives, go out there and live
them with joy and purpose, it was an honor to see you all, thank you very much, congratulations! (clapping and cheering)