Bill and Melinda Gates delivered the Commencement speech to the 2014 class of Standford graduates on the theme of optimism.

Here’s Bill about visiting a hospital on Soweto, South Africa:

This was hell with a waiting list.

But seeing hell didn’t reduce my optimism; it channeled it. I got in the car and told the doctor who was working with us: “Yeah, I know. MDR-TB is hard to cure. But we should be able to do something for these people.” This year, we’re entering phase three with a new TB drug regime. For patients who respond, instead of a 50 percent cure rate after 18 months for $2,000, we could get an 80-90 percent cure rate after six months for under $100.

That’s better by a factor of a hundred.

Optimism is often dismissed as false hope. But there is also false hopelessness.

That’s the attitude that says we can’t defeat poverty and disease.

We absolutely can.

Here’s Melinda:

Let your heart break. It will change what you do with your optimism. […] As you leave Stanford, take your genius and your optimism and your empathy and go change the world in ways that will make millions of others optimistic as well.

You don’t have to rush. You have careers to launch, debts to pay, spouses to meet and marry. That’s enough for now.

But in the course of your lives, without any plan on your part, you’ll come to see suffering that will break your heart.

When it happens, and it will, don’t turn away from it; turn toward it.

That is the moment when change is born.

Yes, yes, yes. A thousands times yes. Read this, bookmark it for later, and then get this speech tattooed on your back. [via 512pixels]

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