Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bill Clinton

I had the pleasure of attending a speech by Bill Clinton last night to a room of corporate lawyers honoring people who do pro bono work. The speech was very inspiring . Clinton spoke about communitarianism which I believe, although I am not sure, was a new phrase for diversity and globalism. [ADDENDUM: communitarianism is a philosophy/policy espoused by Amitai Etzioni, who I met once but whose work I never studied.] Clinton observed that Obama's election reflects a difference in a culture--that we are multi-ethnic and more gender balanced than we were 30 years ago. And we are all interconnected throughout the world as he observed the effect on certain Irish citizens due to the collapse of banks in Iceland. Therefore policy to affect problems must take into account this world community.

Clinton also spoke about his work in Africa to get low cost AIDs meds to sick people. He said that the most important question of our time is not what the problems are but how to solve them. He downplayed the financial crisis which he joked would be over "November 8 at 3:30 pm". Instead he said the important issues involve what to do to fix the worsening environment (e.g eliminate landfills such as the one in Mumbai shown in Slumdog Millionaire along a model adopted in Sweden to turn landfills into playgrounds) cure disease (e.g put collective together to sell low price generic drugs to low income people) , address people left homeless by natural disasters such as the tsunami and Katrina. He said that the legacy he wanted to leave and that we all should want to leave is to make a difference to people. After listening to him, I wanted to volunteer for something that is different from making money for the movie industry. I also reflected, having just finished Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that like Carter Clinton may make more major accomplishments in his post presidential years than in office (although Clinton did have a better run in office than Carter)

Here is a video clip from the beginning of Clinton's speech last night when he was warming up the crowd before he got serious:

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