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’Easy to Say, Hard to Do — “That Man is a Hero Who Can Make a Friend Out of a Foe” – Bill Clinton

’’During Clinton’s administration, the United States enjoyed more peace and economic well-being than at any time in its history. ‘’He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country’s history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls’’ – The Nelson Mandela Foundation

 Sometimes, you come across speeches that directly touch hearts and raise hopes. At other times, you are faced with human conduct that could be demoralizing such that one feels the prospects of securing solutions to the myriad of problems facing humanity are almost NIL. All these thoughts, woven together, could influence human thoughts and conduct. Speeches are crafted to achieve some objectives. The orator who could deliver intelligently sways public opinion in his or her favour.  Where does the motivation come from?  Talents could be developed. Others simply determine to allow their competencies to obtrude by developing themselves and innate qualities.  According to Jesus Christ, the heart really matters: ‘For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34). Public speech delivery is a talent. Where people are considered exemplary, they must have developed themselves over a period of time such that they know how to engage their audience. Terrific Headlines characteristically supports efforts at combating poverty that is described as the world’s most pressing challenge. We equally highlight the endeavours of organizations and individuals who have made remarkable attempts to contribute to living standards of their societies and the world.

In this edition, we focus on Bill Clinton, an avowed protagonist of GLOBALIZATION and MKO Abiola who did a lot to advance the cause of the poor. While Bill Clinton is featured on this channel, MKO Abiola is accommodated on our sister channel … www.couplesofvirtuesandvalues.com. Please enjoy both pieces published to invite attention and promote feelings of empathy.

DESCRIBED AS THE BEST PRESIDENT UNITED STATES EVER PRODUCED, the 42nd President of the United States, President William Jefferson Clinton is a humanist. He is noted for his penchant for weaving anecdotes, experience, and policy together in his discussions and speeches. President Clinton delivered the first Nelson Mandela Annual Lectures in South Africa almost 20 years ago. And the contents of his speeches are still as potent as they were 20years ago. Clinton it was that delivered the first Nelson Mandela Foundation Lecture in 2003. In the lecture, Bill Clinton enumerated several important points that policymakers and individuals need to address to banish poverty. Such is the profound recognition accorded Clinton that the Nelson Mandela Foundation recorded this tribute against President Clinton’s name:  ’’During Clinton’s administration, the United States enjoyed more peace and economic well-being than at any time in its history. ‘’He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country’s history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls’’

“It takes a village to raise a child”. If we live in a global village we are all responsible for every child. If we truly understand the nature of the modern world then America and Europe and Australia and Asia and Africa are in the same village. And therefore, we are all part of our common endeavour to raise every child in the world. We have to be bound by simple strong values across every religious tradition. Everybody counts, everybody deserves a chance, everybody has a responsible role to play, we all do better when we work together. Our differences make life interesting. Look around this room. Pretty interesting looking room, I wish you could see yourselves. Life is a lot more interesting because of our differences but our common humanity matters more. The only way we will be able to honour and celebrate our differences in the world in which we live, is if our common humanity matters more. That is the lesson of Mandela’s monumental life. Ancient wisdom in modern form

My Bible says, “All the Law is fulfilled in one word even this, love thy neighbour as thyself”. The Quoran says, “Requite evil with good and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend”. The Talmud says, “That man is a hero who can make a friend out of a foe” in the Dhammapada the Buddhist says, “Never does hatred by hatred cease but by love alone”. Easy to say, hard to do. But we live in a world without walls and we cannot own the future of that world unless we share it……’’Ever since human beings first rose up on this earth on the African Savannah over a hundred thousand years ago, we have constantly struggled each in our own little way with fear and hatred and hurt, with selfishness and short-sightedness, we constantly struggled to get beyond the narrow confines of our own experience to the larger truth of our common humanity.

Bill Clinton’s Commencement Speech: Our World Is Unequal, Unstable, and Unsustainable …. “The world we live in is too unequal.”   What they [poorer countries] need are systems, things you take for granted. We would be shocked if the microphone failed or the lights went out today, but I spend a lot of my life in places where people take none of that for granted. They need systems, and a lot of you have worked in places where you see young people just as intelligent as you are, just as hard working as you are, they simply don’t have like chances because they don’t have the systems to guarantee good consequences for hard work and good behaviour.

The problem with all countries that have great systems is that they get long in the tooth. That they become so successful that those who run them are more interested in holding on to their positions than advancing the purposes for which they were established. More interested in maintaining the gains of the present than achieving even greater ones for our children in the future. The world in which we live is too unstable, not just  because violence can cross borders and non-state actors can cause trouble, but because disease can cross borders; because the financial crisis, which sadly began here, spread almost instantaneously. First,  to the United Kingdom, then to Ireland, and then Iceland. Then,to the exporting countries because people couldn’t afford to buy their products. We have to find a way to reduce the negative instability of modern life without going to a totally static world where nothing would grow.

Pix Credit: Wikipedia

THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE IS UNSUSTAINABLE  Some people look forward to the global warming because it will make it easier to explore for oil and gas, but what else does it mean that the plants bloomed 15 days early in the Arctic Circle this year? That soon you could take a boat across the North Pole in the summer time and visit Santa Clause? It means that the ice pact on Greenland is melting; it’s 8 percent of the world’s fresh water. If it all melts and falls into the North Atlantic it could block the gulf stream, and perversely, as the planet warms it could make North Europe,  Northern Canada, and the northern most portions of the United States as cold as they were 700 years ago in a mini ice age. All of history in a way is the story of that struggle. In my lifetime only two people have made that personal journey as the leaders of their nations, in the rough and tumble world of politics, Mahatma Gandhi and his worthy successor, Nelson Mandela’’ – Speech delivered at the First Nelson Mandela Foundation Lectures.

.Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis “Poverty is not just a statistic; it’s the story of peoples’ lives. It’s really a description of people who don’t have enough to live on and don’t have enough to raise kids decently on. Its persistence is a severe constraint on economic growth and maybe even worse, it is a profound constraint on social mobility.” These were the words spoken by the 42nd president of the United States and founder of the Clinton Foundation, the Honorable Bill Clinton, in his keynote address at The Hamilton Project’s two-day summit,  In the introduction to a new volume of papers released at the summit, The Hamilton Project reported that “15 percent of Americans are in poverty, and many individuals and families weave in and out of poverty” which “threatens our nation with the prospect of a permanent class of individuals who are unable to contribute productively to and benefit from a thriving economy.” As “childhood poverty often means growing up without the advantages of a stable home, high-quality schools, or consistent nutrition” and “adults in poverty are often hampered by inadequate skills and education, leading to limited wages and job opportunities,” The Hamilton Project explained that “the social and economic costs of poverty remain as real as ever and threaten to undermine the nation’s social fabric and economic future.” Moreover, one particular concern is that “children born into deprivation will live their lives stuck in a perpetual poverty trap.”

In his keynote remarks, President Clinton emphasized that “when we address poverty, we’re really talking about a piece of America’s quilt, something that belongs to all of us.” He stressed the importance of policy and collective effort to combat poverty, explaining that “it’s about the collective viability as a nation, and not just economically, but also socially, even morally” in order to “develop our human potential.” As such, “we should be working together for a country with more shared opportunities, shared prosperity, assuming more shared responsibilities.” “Intelligence and effort, the willingness to work, and dreams are pretty well evenly distributed throughout the world.” However, as President Clinton pointed out, “what are not evenly distributed are opportunities, preparation, and the supportive environment necessary to succeed. “There is no silver bullet” that will solve the problem of poverty. President Clinton explained that “no one policy, no new bright idea, no new technology alone can deal with this.”

Pix Credit: VOA

THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY: The fight against poverty will require participation from every segment of society. As President Clinton pointed out, “there is a mountain of social science evidence that shows that when people work together in diverse groups, they make better decisions than when geniuses act alone.” “We should listen to poor people and look at their surroundings” as “poverty has many faces and unheard voices.” President Clinton stressed that those in poverty “need not be patronized. They don’t want entitlements. What they really want is empowerment, and we need to give them policies that provide that.” “Culture matters.” President Clinton lauded various companies whose intrinsic culture has shaped not only their success but the wellbeing of their employees. “Government has a significant role to play in all this, and it has to play it.” President Clinton made reference to many influential government policies from the past and described their positive impact on society. These examples served to convince the audience that “we can do this. There is really no excuse for the neglect we have shown, especially to our children. We can do this, and it isn’t that expensive.”

Offering praise, support, and suggestions, President Clinton also spoke directly in response to several of the policy measures featured in The Hamilton Project’s collection. Among his comments, the former president emphasized the need to increase student retention, increase the accessibility of college to those from underprivileged backgrounds, and to “incentivize universities to hold down costs.” He also suggested coordinating the efforts of non-profit anti-poverty organizations “so as to amplify the combined impact of them.”President Clinton concluded his address by stating that “we should try to create a world in which everyone can be proud to pay taxes because they have good incomes, and they can take care of their kids, and they know what the money’s buying—and it’s buying a return of the American dream.” – FROM A REPORT OF BROOKINGS INSTITUTION Published June 30, 2014