Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clinton in Montreal calls for "Communitarianism" in The Suburban

This came today from Kathleen at Habeas Corpus Canada. Her commentary about it was penetrating and knowledgable, she's done a lot of research into the Canadian players and their associations. She's reinspired me today... after the past couple weeks of web updates, videos and radio interviews, 'm fried and was thinking of taking a break. Heh. As my ex-husband used to tell me all the time, "Man he works from sun to sun but women's work is never done."

Exactly what part of global communitarianism is a "conspiracy theory?"

cover of the Suburban News

Clinton in Montreal calls for ‘Communitarianism’

Cotler calls speech “one of the most inspiring”

By Joel Goldenberg

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton put out a clarion call for people to engage in “communitarianism”, doing one’s part for those on the disadvantaged side of the inequality that exists around the world.

Clinton was at Centre Mont Royal downtown Friday morning to receive an honourary degree in Doctor of Laws from McGill University for his achievements in leadership, as part of McGill’s Leadership Summit ‘09. McGill principal Heather Monroe-Blum, who introduced Clinton, noted that only one other U.S. president received a McGill honourary degree — Franklin Roosevelt in 1944.

After opening with some self-deprecating remarks, and noting that he was happy that Quebec and the rest of Canada “didn’t get a divorce” back in 1995, Clinton focused on the work of his William J. Clinton Foundation, which tackles the challenges of global interdependence, helping people with HIV and AIDS, fighting climate change and develop sustainable economic growth in Africa and Latin America. Clinton has also been, sometimes with former president George H.W. Bush, raising funds for recovery efforts after recent devastating natural disasters.
Clinton told the appreciative audience that he likes Canada because “in many ways, it was like America but with one fundamental difference over the last 25 years.

“There’s a great appreciation for individualism, a great belief in the power of free enterprise, and yet there was a certain communitarianism that persisted in Canada that has been lacking in America, but has been building steadily there for the last 10 years,” he explained.

“Communitarianism is neither left nor right, it simply recognizes that we are mutually dependent on each other, that it is inconceivable that we can find personal fulfillment or family success unless we have some concern or care for the general conditions under which we all live.

“The whole world is interdependent to an extent it has never been before.

“I would like to make the argument today that this is basically the mission we have to undertake for the world... We have to have a world consciousness. In the absence of that, we will not make good decisions.”

The former president added that one focus of his foundation is to rectify a 25-year-old policy that saw developed countries deliver food to famine-stricken nations, which became impractical and expensive, rather than promoting the development of local agriculture. He credited Canada for moving away from this policy and noted that former president George W. Bush also wanted to do so.

In general, Clinton said the world is “too unequal, with half the world living on less than $2 a day, a billion people who go to bed hungry, a billion having no access to clean water, 2.5 billion having no access to sanitation and 130 million who will never go to school. One in four people this year will die of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and infections related to dirty water. Eighty percent of the people who die of water-borne diseases are five years of age or younger.” And yet, he also related stories of children and adults either impoverished or devastated by death or natural disaster who choose to persevere.

In the 21st century world, “citizens have the power to affect the course of their own destiny, and the world’s destiny is greater than it has ever been.” He cited the numerous NGOs — non-governmental organizations— around the world as taking such initiatives that governments do not.

“They believe they can change the world from the ground up... When you have the ability to do something that is good, you have a moral responsibility to try and do it. Most of what I spend my time doing now is trying to get people to understand that you don’t have to be president, a member of Parliament or Congress, or a prime minister, to have a positive impact around the world. You don’t have to be rich... if a large number of people with a limited amount of money each agree that something is a problem, they can move the world.”
Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, one of those in the audience, said the speech was “extraordinary.”

“One of the most inspiring I’ve ever heard — moving, with great content. He summed it up by saying we live in an interdependent world and we have to see ourselves as a communitarian people, and look out for one another or the nature of the universe in which we live with its instability, injustice, inequality and the like will take us down the road to disaster. That plea for working on behalf of our common humanity, the stories he told, this was one of the greatest speeches I’ve ever heard.”
Do we really have to see ourselves as "communitarian people?" I don't think we know enough about communitarianism to make a healthy choice about it. Why didn't former President Bill Clinton tell the American people about it when they elected him in 1992? Why doesn't President Obama tell the American people about it now. Do we all just become communitarians by default, with nobody really knowing what it is? Oh, okay, yeah...that's real freedom, right?

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