Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bill Clinton

Last night we had the privilege of seeing and older, more relaxed Bill Clinton speak at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. He is part of a lecture series called Distinguished Speakers. What a great speaker armed with facts, genuinely passionate about his message, and always injecting just the right amount of humor make everyone feel comfortable. Admittedly long winded, he spoke for an hour and a half hardly looking at notes.

He spoke most about helping us create a framework from which to build an opinion about the overwhelming issues we hear about every day. It can also be a framework by which to make decisions about how we choose to live. This framework means understanding three things - that there is a lot of inequality in the world, that the world is interdependent, and the world is unsustainable.

There are people dying from malaria, tuberculosis. 80% of the people that die of these dirty water born diseases are children. This is inequality in an age where our country will hardly see the effects of these diseases. I've heard Bill Gates talk about this in regard to his efforts with his Gates Foundation. There are many countries who's citizens still live on two dollars a day. And regarding health care in our country, we are the only wealthy country who spends 17% of our incomes on health care without being able to insure everyone, most other wealthy nations only spend 10-11%.

Our actions affect everyone, prime example - the domino effect of last year's economic crisis.

We already know that the way we are using our natural resources is unsustainable. But did you know that the world's most energy efficient countries - Denmark, Sweden and Germany - became more prosperous by solving their issues of energy efficiency. Not only did fixing these problems save money and resources, it created more jobs lowering the unemployment rate, something our current president in pushing. The Kyoto Treaty also committed 44 countries to cut emissions to 1990 levels by (I forget what date), but only 4 of these countries will reach that goal.

Bill Clinton is also one of those amazing storytellers who transported us to a conversation he had with a man who survived Rwanda genocide. Of the 300,000 people who were brutally killed within a span of 90 days, 73 of them where part of his family up to first cousins. He talked about the part he played in the release of the journalists imprisoned and released in North Korea, and even showed compassion for Sarah Palin saying that she was placed in an impossible position when she was asked to debate in a national election.

Overall, excellent evening. Not enough young people though... Really felt like we got to know a former president more personally.

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