You can change the way you think about other people. You can choose to see their humanity first. – Melinda Gates, Co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
One of the reasons I greatly admire the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is because its two fearless leaders, Bill and Melinda Gates, honestly believe this: We believe all lives have equal value.
I had never heard a large, influential foundation like the Gates Foundation proclaim this equality for humanity before and ever since hearing it I have held the Gates Foundation in the highest regard not only because of the stellar work the foundation does around the world with leading researchers, experts, and NGOs, but because they hold all of the world’s people on a pedestal no matter if they live in the favelas of Brazil or in a tiny one-room house in Kibera, Kenya. That proclamation of equality means a great deal to the advancement of global humanity, to be sure. Why? Let’s not kid ourselves. There are still some who believe those with less are to be helped, but pitied and silenced. What made Gates’ point about equality even more poignant is she said titles don’t define us. Qualifiers like “rich” and “poor” don’t make or break anyone. We are all the same!
Yesterday, under pristine blue skies in Durham, North Carolina, Melinda Gates, the Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, delivered an inspiring speech to Duke graduates about using technology for good. In her speech she called upon Duke students — and anyone, really — to use online connections to build global relationships in order to change humanity and the world. While the notion may seem far-reaching at first, it is perfectly logical. We are all digitally connected and can choose to use technology to help others in our own way. We just have to make the choice to do so.
As the founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, Gates’ speech rang true to me in many ways and inspired and pushed me to continue to unearth more authentic avenues to build real, online connections with others from North Carolina to Nigeria. I am on an amplified voyage to make connections in person and digitally.
I admire that Melinda Gates encouraged the Duke graduates not to listen to cynics who admonish them for sharing status updates and collecting friend requests. She understands that this connected generation is the one that has the potential to lay down real change online and alter the way in which we help others digitally. It only takes one or two Millennials to recognize a digital shift, grab it, and spread it. I love that Millennials have an advocate in Melinda Gates. She lends a powerful voice to them when so many say they just don’t get it.
“The people who say that technology has disconnected you are wrong,” Gates said. “But so are the people who say technology has automatically connected you.”
Using fellow Duke graduate Paul Farmer as an example of someone who utilizes a moral compass and deep connections in his work around the world, Gates encouraged the Duke students to use their online resources for the betterment of society in a thoughtful way, even though she recognized that everyone won’t turn out to be the next Farmer. Her hope is that they use the tools of technology to forge a brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. Some of the Duke graduates will understand and internalize what Melinda Gates said and will change the world for good and others won’t. It only takes one.
Watch Melinda Gates’ entire speech.