Family reunion as Clinton Global Initiative closes

AP News
Posted: Sep 22, 2011 7:04 PM
Family reunion as Clinton Global Initiative closes

A family reunion closed out the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Thursday, as former President Bill Clinton turned the stage over to his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for her thoughts on a range of global issues. Her interviewer? Their daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

The youngest Clinton asked her mother about issues ranging from technology to the world's food needs. Along the way, she let the audience know that she helped her mother send her first text message and that her father still referred to the Internet as the World Wide Web.

Hillary Clinton told the audience of world leaders, celebrities, business people, philanthropists and non-governmental organizations that "we really are in a new age, we're in the age of participation."

She said the challenge was for governments and other organizations to figure out how to be responsive to people as they make their voices heard, "how to help catalyze, unleash, channel the kind of participatory eagerness that is there."

"I want to see us moving toward a world where we do try to maximize the God-given potential of every person," Hillary Clinton said.

The initiative, in its seventh year, brings together government and the private sector to figure out ways to address the world's pressing issues. It takes place at the same time as the United Nations General Assembly ministerial meetings on the other side of Manhattan.

Attendees commit to taking action on the conference topics, which have included climate change, poverty and women's issues. Among the speakers at this year's event was the secretary of state's boss, President Barack Obama.

The former president concluded the session by saying the modern world required humanity to figure out a different way of being, of moving away from the current struggles for power that involve trying to gain control over other people's lives and resources.

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"If we are too successful in the struggle for wealth and power, we will be too successful in robbing people of their dignity, and we will pay a terrible price," he said.

Clinton said he was optimistic, though, after hearing from everyone during the conference, and he urged people not to be pessimistic.

Referring to surveys that say young people are discouraged about the state of the world, he said it was important to understand that the choices made in the present shape what the globe will look like.

"You should be grateful that you're living in a time when you've been given a chance to build a new world," he said. "The uncertainties of the moment don't have to exist 10 years from now."