4 Rules For Achieving Peace and Justice | Bryan Stevenson

I want to affirm how you
don’t have to be embarrassed to say I’m trying to change the world. I think we can change the world. And I have a simple little prescription. I think there are four things that we’re going to have to think about. The first thing we’re going
to have to commit ourselves to getting and staying
proximate to the people who are poor and suffering
and marginalized. We think we can change
the world by staying just on Harvard’s campus,
by staying in places of power and privilege, staying
just in our elected offices. If we care about injustice,
if we care about inequality, if we care about poverty,
if we care about disability, if we care about addiction and dependency, we’re going to have to get close enough to those who are poor and
excluded and neglected, addicted and dependent to understand the nature of that problem. Second thing we’re going to have to do is we’re going to have to
change these narratives. We have mass incarceration in America because we declared a
misguided war on drugs. We said that people who are drug addicted and drug dependent are criminals. For alcoholism, we said that’s a disease. And if you know somebody
who’s an alcoholic and you see them going to a bar, you don’t think oh, we
better call the police. We have a different framework. But for addiction and dependency, we said those are criminals and we’ve locked up hundreds
and thousands of people. Now, I think that narrative has to change, because I think what allowed us, what made us comfortable
with those policy choices is what I call the
politics of fear and anger. And I’m here to tell you
that if we allow ourselves to be governed by fear and anger, we’re gonna tolerate things
we’re not supposed to tolerate. That’s how you get
comfortable with inequality. That’s how you get
comfortable with injustice. That’s how you get
comfortable abusing people in ways that are clearly
indecent and wrong. You do it because you’ve
been given a narrative of fear and anger that makes you think that that’s justifiable. The third thing we’re going to have to do is we’re going to have to stay hopeful. You have to protect your hope
quotient, your hope dynamic. Because sometimes being in spaces like this can rattle you. The faculty are brilliant,
but they’re trying to complicate the world for you. And sometimes, when the world
starts to get complicated, you lose hope that you can do the things you thought you could do. You begin to actually no longer believe that that world changing thing you were hoping to
achieve, you can achieve. And so while you are dealing with the complexity of the
world, you’re going to have to affirmatively work on
protecting your hope. Your hope is vital to your
capacity to change the world. I actually believe that hopelessness is the enemy of justice. And justice prevails where
hopelessness persists. The fourth and final thing
we’re going to have to do and this is a hard one,
we’re going to have to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient, because we do not change the world by only doing the things that are comfortable and convenient. And I hate that because we’re humans, and humans are biologically
and psychologically programmed to do what’s comfortable, we like comfort. And that means that we’re
going to have to make a choice to do uncomfortable
things to change things. I tried to research my
way out of this, I did, as a faithful alum of this university, I looked and did some research. And I tried to find an example
where justice prevailed, where equality triumphed,
and nobody had to do anything uncomfortable or inconvenient. Can’t find any examples of that. I’ve learned really simple
things during my work. I believe that each of us
is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done, I believe
that for every human being. I think if someone tells a
lie, they’re not just a liar. I think even if you kill someone,
you’re not just a killer. And justice requires that
we know the other things we are before we judge you.

10 Responses

  1. Robert Carroll says:

    Typo in the title, FYI. Amazing talk though – one of the best I’ve attended at HKS.

  2. Aditya Sharma says:

    Sir I think there's a more very important thing to do… Thought revolution
    Bcz thoughts turn to action and action is to be desirable only with rational thought

  3. Aditya Sharma says:

    Thanks for your views sir

  4. Harold Lloyd says:

    God bless this man, the work he's done/doing is invaluable

  5. Cassius Schwamm says:


  6. Sasquatch says:

    If you ever get a chance to hear this wonderful human being talk take the opportunity. If not, just find his talks on youtube. If you are open, it will inspire you.

  7. Jophar Hautman says:

    Nice video which is hard to disagree with except point 4 which does raise some flags. Other videos by Mr. Stevenson raise even more flags that this gentleman is not nearly as nice as he comes off. Vengeance, punishment and retribution are themes he hints at and those are beyond inconvenient or uncomfortable. I'll watch more of his stuff.

  8. Youre On Stolen Land says:

    Dude spreads white supremacy. Who's the oppressor? White man. Who's the oppressed, downtrodden and po po? POC

  9. juan hoshkaboo says:

    "If you kill someone you're not just killer", says Bryan Stevenson to the loved one of the person who was killed. Yeah, we better help that killer. Notice how these people never concentrate on helping the victims of crimes. It's all about some amorphous "inequality" that is victimizing these criminals.

  10. juan hoshkaboo says:

    Somehow Bryan was able to get to position of power even while subject to discrimination in America. Amazing, he must be special

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