Commencement address Humanitarian Paul Farmer speaks “On Empathy and Reason”

Paul Farmer at the University of Delaware’s 164th Commencement ceremony on May 25, 2013, in Delaware Stadium

…I will be making, today, an Important Announcement. “Dare to be first,” as the UD motto goes, and I’ve chosen this very day, your graduation, to announce my discovery and naming of a new disease, which I’ve elected to call EDD. That stands forEmpathy Deficit Disorder. I’m also announcing today a cure for EDD, which I will lay out for you and for reporters wishing to cover this breaking news in non-clinical terms by telling a story about the struggle between empathy and reason.

This narrative does in fact involve a rock star, and even a couple of presidents and other leaders, among whom EDD has, at times, reached epidemic proportions. Curing EDD among leaders, which many of you will become, will help untold millions whose unnecessary suffering may be averted or cured as long as our efforts are supported by a broad-based coalition of people able to link empathy to reason and action. That’s my diagnosis and here’s my prescription:

We need to be part of that coalition. Since I’m the brilliant fellow who first discovered and announced, right here, the cure for Empathy Deficit Disorder, I’m hoping you will “dare to be first” in supporting me today…