A Message for 2022 Graduates

Shared Destiny Has Become Humanity’s Greatest Opportunity

This graduation speech was given by Phil Coupe to the graduating class of Baxter Academy in Portland, Maine, on June 4th, 2022. It has been edited for size and readability.

Co-Founder Phil Coupe Gives the Commencement Speech at Baxter Academy

Love is the only most vital phrase you’ll want to know in life, so I needed to say it first. Students and academics, congratulations on all you’ve achieved. We can’t thanks educators sufficient for nurturing society’s most treasured useful resource, which is you college students.

Besides the truth that we love you, do you college students know why you’re so vital? It’s as a result of you’ll quickly be carrying our hopes and goals for the higher future we all know is feasible, together with your individual concepts for the type of world during which you wish to stay.

Wow, that’s so much so that you can carry, however we all know how robust you’re since you’ve already survived the worst pandemic in 100 years whereas doing no matter it took to graduate highschool. It’s onerous, proper? You’ve skilled Covid-19, you’ve seen the horrors of conflict in Ukraine and unrelenting gun violence in America. You’ve witnessed starvation, homelessness, and hopelessness, identical to generations of scholars that got here earlier than you.

Modern society could be overwhelming, nevertheless it’s additionally true that all of us has superpowers to assist us cope and guarantee we are able to carry no matter weight may fall upon our shoulders as we study and develop, as we fall down and get again up, as we battle injustice, as we love each other and ourselves. Life is commonly actually onerous, and it hurts generally, however that is what makes us stronger, and helps us uncover our skill to assist ourselves and finally, others. And that’s actually the best alternative in life: to nurture oneself such that we have now capability to assist others, all in pursuit of a greater self and society.

Helping Others

Congratulations to all 2022 graduates!

In my life, the phrases of the well-known speaker Zig Zigler have been unfailingly true: You Can Get Everything You Want in Life if You Help Other People Get What They Want.

Here’s an instance of what Zig meant. I needed to get into the solar business however had no related expertise. So as a substitute of blindly beginning an organization, or making use of for a job with no {qualifications}, I made a decision to assist faculties get solar power as a approach to train college students about clear energy and to economize for the colleges. Once I began attempting to assist faculties get solar, I all of the sudden discovered myself constructing constructive connections with solar firms and faculty superintendents. Within a 12 months I used to be in discussions with a pair engineers who finally turned my fellow co-founders of ReVision Energy.

This begs two vital questions: what would you like in life? And what sort of world do you wish to stay in? With love, tenacity and a willingness to assist others, we have now to struggle for a life value dwelling, and a world during which to do it. At at this time’s scale of 8 billion folks globally, civilization has essentially grow to be a workforce sport whereby everybody must contribute to the continual enchancment of our ourselves and people round us.

Never Give Up, Never Quit

Philip Coupe, Travis Mills, and Dmitri Coupe final weekend on the Miles for Mills Race.

The Japanese have a time period for this concept of all the time attempting to make issues higher. The phrase is Kaizen, which accurately means “continuous improvement.” Let me let you know about Staff Sargent Travis Mills. He was on patrol throughout his third tour of obligation in Afghanistan when he set his backpack down on a land mine that blew off most of his legs and arms. When the excruciating ache from nerve injury and unimaginable surgical procedures turned insufferable, Travis determined he was Never Going to Give Up and Never Quit as a result of he didn’t need his beloved toddler daughter to lose her dad.

Today Travis walks and drives a automobile with two carbon fiber legs, one prosthetic arm and one shoulder stump. I do know this as a result of I used to be very nervous when he initially instructed me to hop into the passenger seat of his truck – however he was an excellent driver. Instead of self-pitying the worst wounds ever survived by a soldier, Travis has chosen to Kaizen what’s left of his bodily physique, and to ship Kaizen alternatives for others with excessive challenges. Instead of deciding he was crippled for all times, he bought busy making a retreat for wounded warriors in Augusta known as the Travis Mills Foundation that’s serving to tons of of veterans discover peace and therapeutic.

Ernest Shackleton and crew. Credit: Library of Congress.

Here’s another instance, which occurred within the South Atlantic Ocean in 1917 when the British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed his ship Endurance to Antarctica in an try and be the primary to traverse the south pole. Soon after arriving on the coast of Antarctica, the Endurance and its 27 sailors turned hopelessly caught in pack ice. Considered one of many biggest human survival tales of all time, Shackleton and some of his males sailed a small lifeboat 800 grueling miles throughout the roughest seas on the planet to get again to their authentic launch level, however their skiff was tossed onto the rocks on the improper facet of an island they usually needed to scale a ten,000-foot mountain vary in winter to get assist. Then they sailed 800 miles again to rescue the remainder of their workforce. Never Give Up, Never Quit.

Heroes Like You

I’m telling you about folks like Travis Mills and Ernest Shackleton as a result of they’re identical to you and me aside from the truth that when offered with colossal challenges, they rose to the event with unusual grace and fortitude. These are the sorts of heroes that give me power once I’m struggling to cope with the challenges of working a enterprise that’s attempting clear up one in every of humanity’s greatest issues.

Confronting the damaging affect of 8 billion folks burning fossil fuels in earth’s closed ambiance appears like a David vs. Goliath battle day by day.

But once I’m feeling overwhelmed or depressed by the sheer magnitude of all of it, I draw immense power and rejuvenation from folks like Travis Mills and Ernest Shackleton, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jacinda Ardern, the extraordinary lady who turned prime minister of New Zealand at age 37.

The frequent thread shared by these folks is their humanity, and the way effectively they understood the project about doing no matter it takes to assist others whereas making the world a greater place. No, we are able to’t all be superheroes like these of us, however we are able to determine for ourselves what it’s we wish on this world, and if we’re good we’ll assist a bunch of different folks get what they need.

And if we have now to select one single factor to deal with with the identical relentlessness with which Martin Luther King Jr. pursued a greater future for his folks and generations to return, that one factor is LOVE.

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