Staying Relevant in a Changing World Speech by Dean Men Honghua At the 2018 Commencement of the School of Political Science & International Relations, Tongji University
Time: 2021-08-22

Staying Relevant in a Changing World

Speech by Dean Men Honghua

At the 2018 Commencement of the School of Political Science & International Relations, Tongji University

July 6, 2018

Dear Students, Parents and Colleagues,

In the midsummer, lotus is in full bloom. It's also the time for graduation and departure. Our students will bid farewell to the School of Political Science & International Relations (SPSIR), Tongji University, and start a new journey of life. Here, on behalf of the faculty at SPSIR, I would like to witness your successful completion of studies, cheer for your opening of a new chapter, and see you off for a promising future! Congratulations to every student here and wish you a brilliant life!

Dear Students,

Mr. Lu Xun once said: "If there is existence, there is hope; if there is hope, there is light." You are living in a changing era and benefit from the magnificent and changeful prospect of China; you are full of hopes for self-achievement and also shoulder the expectation of your family and your country. Opportunity and challenge are the two sides of a coin. Change brings both radiance and restlessness. However, to outdo oneself in normal situations is good luck; and to maintain a stable performance in abnormal situations is ability. Therefore, the best path for countries and individuals to stand erect among the strongest is to maintain a normal state of mind, grasp the direction of development and stick to the right path in the midst of changing circumstances. On this memorable day and around the topic of "Staying Relevant in a Changing World", I would like to share my own opinions about how to bring out your best in this unpredictable era.

Dear Students,

In face of a changing world, our Party and country have remained true to the original aspirations and forged ahead continuously. "The extensive creation of material and spiritual wealth is called a great cause; and the continuous day-by-day innovation is called a great virtue." In the second decade of the 21st century, China's internal and external environments for peaceful development have undergone great changes. Domestically, China is in a critical period for building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, in a crucial period for deepening reform and opening up, and in a period of great opportunities. As the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved into the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life, China in the new era of socialism still needs to maximize its strength and avoid its weakness. Internationally, the international economic order is being reshaped; the global governance structure is being restructured; China's say in international affairs is increasing; and international doubts are growing. It can be said that the world is facing a fully rising China that is more confident and open; while China is facing a world in which the situation is more complicated, changes are more profound, and opportunities and challenges coexist. In order to face up to the challenges of the times and seize historical opportunities, China follows the five major development concepts, is committed to the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan and the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy, and works hard to bypass the "middle income trap" at home; and overseas, it is guided by building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind and backed by the Belt & Road Initiative, the construction of free trade areas (FTAs) and global partnership to avoid the "Thucydides’ trap". Facing the mighty world trend, China is pursuing the great cause of creating wealth via the great virtue of day-by-day innovation. In this process, it has always kept a rational grasp of the situation and a consistent strategic focus. Facing an uncertain and unstable world, our Party and country have not only created a stage for us to achieve self-fulfillment, but also set up a confident, composed and calm model.

Dear Students,

In face of the changing times, young elites should face pressure head-on and handle it calmly. Change of the external environment represents progress, but also means greater uncertainty and unpreparedness to you. As the ancient Greek sage Heraclitus said, only in the midst of change can we find the goal. To grow up is to use inner power to deal with the pressure of external changes. Most times, it’s not that our circumstance is too hard, but that our heart is not strong enough. Moreover, true strength is also soft, which means that we won't frown upon any emergencies but will smile under any situations. As such, excellence is achieved in changes, and honor is won under pressure. But it is not easy to do that. It requires three abilities: First, concentration. Focus on your goal, for you will always find a way if you work one hundred percent to the goal. Focus on the process of trying, and do not be distracted by external temptations and negative remarks. Focus on your own growth, for it is the basis for comprehending by analogy and growing to be more than equal to a task. Second, resilience. Sometimes, the most fragile is often a heart of glass. Successful people who can work under pressure often tell themselves: stand firmly for your pursuit; never give up your goal; work for the life you desire; and do not try to avoid pressure. Third, action. Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth, and action is the only way to realize dreams. In an ever-changing world, your occasional procrastination seems like no big deal, but it will make you lag behind the doers in seconds. To live in the moment, you must, first of all, act and succeed in the moment. I believe, with the three abilities you will not only have a relaxed and happy state of mind, but also enjoy a happy life.

Dear Students,

In face of a prosperous China, we at SPSIR uphold the philosophy of keeping a low profile while striving to make a difference to create an academic high ground. With the tenet of “building the School on sound institutions, prospering it through academic excellence, making it stronger through discipline development, and putting students first,” we are committed to comprehensive reforms and all-around development. Our School is designated as a pilot college. Bearing in mind the concept of “seeking a holistic approach to both the domestic and international situations,” we implement a differentiated development strategy to amplify our study characteristics integrating “governance, strategy and intellectual history”. We seek to build a strategic research platform with a significant influence at home and abroad, and play a leading role in a wide range of academic fields including China & world studies, international theory and practice of Marxism, European studies focusing on Germany, and Asia-Pacific studies focusing on East Asia. To meet the country’s major strategic needs, the School is committed to cultivating elites with a global vision and strategic thinking, who are able to provide innovative, interdisciplinary solutions to major practical problems, and have a good knowledge of national governance and international affairs. In this process, we are striving to make a difference in an enterprising age, we are proud to be engaged in the noble cause of education, and we are concentrating on imparting and acquiring knowledge in the city’s hustle and bustle. It can be said that we expect to leverage the development of the School to create a more solid platform for your growth and to build a community with a shared future for all SPSIRers. We were approved to set up doctoral programs in political science in January 2018, and to establish the Tongji Base for Research on International Governance of Cyberspace under the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) & the Ministry of Education (MOE) in July of the same year. With a confident stride, we have built a solid foundation for the future glory of the School. We believe that even bigger surprises are just around the corner! As Romain Rolland wrote, "We move forward calmly. We don't want to catch up with time, because time is on our side."

Max Weber once said, “We must not only fulfill the scientific responsibility of understanding the fact and truth, but also fulfill the practical responsibility of proposing our own ideals.” In the past days, you have fulfilled your scientific responsibilities by conscientious study; in the days to come, you should fulfill your practical responsibilities with continuous efforts. Whenever you need it, our School will always be a home and a harbor you can come back and rely on. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “When one goes forth a-voyaging, he has a tale to tell.” I hope that you will come back often to tell and share those warm stories between you and the School.

Dear Students,

Looking into the future, students at Tongji should stay calm and steady and grow with the times. It should be said that time in its tick-tock takes away your youth and adds a touch of maturity to your lives. In the face of an uncertain yet brilliant future, I have a few parting words of advice, which I hope will be useful to you.

I hope you can safeguard your original dreams after graduation. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out: "Young people are always energetic and full of dreams. Young people should aim high, acquire more knowledge, temper their will, and make their formative years richly rewarding ones in an era of progress." No matter your future stage is a government department, a company or a school, and no matter your role is a leader, a participant or a bystander, I only hope you will stay true to your original aspirations.

I hope you can keep a peaceful mind after graduation. It's important to keep a peaceful mind in the fast-paced life. With inner peace, you learn to concentrate. With concentration, you get a better understanding about yourself, accept yourself, and improve yourself. I hope you will not be disturbed by secular affairs or give in to material desires. I hope you will cultivate noble morality and simplicity, for your life will become rich when you care less about gain and loss.

I hope you can stay open-minded and sincere after graduation. In the big world, only by being inclusive and learning from others can you get inspired and become wiser. In the complicated society, only by mutual benefit and win-win cooperation can you bide your time and then make a difference. And in hard times, you should be kind to others and self-motivated, attaining the sense of happiness with a loving heart. Pursue your dreams and live every day to the fullest. You can still have big dreams, though you only have a small stage; you can still look forward with hopes, though you have a cross to bear in life. I hope and I also believe, in the University, our School is your pride; and out of the University, our School will be proud of you!

Of course, I sincerely hope that you will be safe and blessed. Three days ago, my friend Wang Jian, Chairman of HNA Group, unfortunately fell from a high wall during an official inspection in France. He was a great man in the industry, a national hero, and a philosopher passionate about the revival and spread of Chinese culture. His early death at the age of 57 is heartbreaking news for all those who knew him. He led the HNA Group to the forefront of the Fortune Global 500 list in the past 25 years. He advocated founders of HNA Group to donate all their shares to Cihang Foundation after death or demission. He made countless personal donations quietly. He was widely acknowledged as a venerable person. I admire him for his noble character and pioneering spirit, I cherish his brotherly friendship, and I deplore his unexpected early death. I know that he was disillusioned with everything; I'd rather believe that his departure is the beginning of another good karma. Just like the lyrics from a song titled "Tears of the Bodhisattva", "the joy of meeting you is boundless, like the fragrance of lotus overflows." May him rest peacefully in Heaven. Here, I'd like to share with you some of Mr. Wang’s reflections on life:

  • Men are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered, but love them anyway;

  • People may say we do good deeds out of selfish secret motives, but do good deeds anyway;

  • The good deeds done today may be forgotten tomorrow, but do good deeds anyway;

  • A winner will get false friends and true enemies, but succeed anyway;

  • Being honest with others makes one vulnerable, but be honest anyway;

  • The great learned man may be knocked down by the unenlightened vile character, but aim high anyway;

  • Man tends to follow Somebody despite he likes Nobody, but fight for Nobodies anyway;

  • What we have been dedicated to for years may be destroyed overnight, but be dedicated to it anyway;

  • People in need may attack you when you truly help them, but help them anyway;

  • When you give the most precious thing to the world, you may be blamed instead of being blessed, but give it anyway.

Because of Mr. Wang, I get a deeper understanding that in one's life, dedication is venerable, health is the most important, and safety is a blessing. As you are about to take a new voyage of life, we teachers would like to extend our expectations for you, however reluctant we are to say goodbye. May you make progress every day and be safe and sound in every moment. May you succeed in the future and stay young forever.

Dear Students,

Whenever midsummer arrives, I will recall a famous saying from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: "The course of true love never did run smooth." Indeed, the midsummer of youth is a season full of dreams; and the crest of dreams may be reached by uphill climbing. In the future, no matter what brilliant dialogues with life you will have, no matter what a bright future you will have, no matter how many people you will meet, and no matter how much joy and hurt you will experience, please remember that our meeting is a beautiful encounter in a changing world; and please promise to grow with the times, for SPSIRers will always stand in the forefront of the new era!

Thank you!