But here we are. I am 51 years old, like I told you, and mind-numbing acronyms notwithstanding, I just want to tell you if there has been a momentous time for humanity to exist, it is now, because the present you is brave. The present you is hopeful. The present you is innovative and resourceful, and of course, the present you is annoyingly indefinable. And in this spell-binding, imperfect moment of existence, feeling a little brave just before I came here, I decided to take a good, hard look at my face. And I realized that I’m beginning to look more and more like the wax statue of me at Madame Tussaud’s.
Yeah, and in that moment of realization, I asked the most central and pertinent question to humanity and me: Do I need to fix my face? Really. I’m an actor, like I told you, a modern expression of human creativity. The land I come from is the source of inexplicable but very simple spirituality. In its immense generosity, India decided somehow that I, the Muslim son of a broke freedom fighter who accidentally ventured into the business of selling dreams, should become its king of romance, the “Badhshah of Bollywood,” the greatest lover the country has ever seen … with this face. Yeah. Which has alternately been described as ugly, unconventional , and strangely, not chocolatey enough.
The people of this ancient land embraced me in their limitless love, and I’ve learned from these people that neither power nor poverty can make your life more magical or less tortuous. I’ve learned from the people of my country that the dignity of a life, a human being, a culture, a religion, a country actually resides in its ability for grace and compassion. I’ve learned that whatever moves you, whatever urges you to create, to build, whatever keeps you from failing, whatever helps you survive, is perhaps the oldest and the simplest emotion known to mankind, and that is love.
So you may use your power to build walls and keep people outside, or you may use it to break barriers and welcome them in. You may use your faith to make people afraid and terrify them into submission, or you can use it to give courage to people so they rise to the greatest heights of enlightenment. You can use your energy to build nuclear bombs and spread the darkness of destruction, or you can use it to spread the joy of light to millions. You may filthy up the oceans callously and cut down all the forests. You can destroy the ecology, or turn to them with love and regenerate life from the waters and trees. You may land on Mars and build armed citadels, or you may look for life-forms and species to learn from and respect. And you can use all the moneys we all have earned to wage futile wars and give guns in the hands of little children to kill each other with, or you can use it to make more food to fill their stomachs with.
My country has taught me the capacity for a human being to love is akin to godliness. It shines forth in a world which civilization, I think, already has tampered too much with. In the last few days, the talks here, the wonderful people coming and showing their talent, talking about individual achievements, the innovation, the technology, the sciences, the knowledge we are gaining by being here in the presence of TED Talks and all of you are reasons enough for us to celebrate the future “us.” But within that celebration the quest to cultivate our capacity for love and compassion has to assert itself, has to assert itself, just as equally.
So I believe the future “you” is an infinite you. It’s called a chakra in India, like a circle. It ends where it begins from to complete itself. A you that perceives time and space differently understands both your unimaginable and fantastic importance and your complete unimportance in the larger context of the universe. A you that returns back to the original innocence of humanity, which loves from the purity of heart, which sees from the eyes of truth, which dreams from the clarity of an untampered mind.
The future “you” has to be like an aging movie star who has been made to believe that there is a possibility of a world which is completely, wholly, self-obsessively in love with itself. A world — really, it has to be a you to create a world which is its own best lover. That I believe, ladies and gentlemen, should be the future “you.”