President Barack Obama, the main personality of the Global Citizen event, promoted by the newspaper Valor Economico, Banco Santander and AAdvantage Card, registered his fame as an admired and persuasive speaker. The audience listened attentively and quietly, and finally, between selected questions, the Director of the newspaper O Globo, Frederic Kachar, asked him about what advice he would give a country immersed in an unprecedented political and economic crisis like this one that welcomes him. Astute, with clarity and enviable reasoning and without reference to our reality, turning to the audience of businessmen, bankers, professionals and artists, he said: “In many countries, people say they hate politicians and government, but the politicians and government are reflections of ourselves. If a society is healthy, politics will also be. If a society is sick, politics will be.” He was applauded.
We are experiencing a moment of extraordinary change, but also of uncertainty. People around the world are clamoring for leaders to solve their existential problems. They are in a growing hope that everyone will rise and come together to build the future they want for society. This is the message that the president wants to pass on to the need to strengthen citizenship. The purpose is to initiate a dialogue on the responsibility of each one to build a better future.
President Obama has been a global leader in advancing civic engagement and has been encouraging and inspiring citizens to get involved in their communities. He recently stated:
“We need you to stay connected, work together, learn from each other so that we can build the next generation of leaders who are able to tackle issues like global warming, poverty, help economic growth and ensure that women have opportunities equal to men. And also, to give every child, wherever she lives, a chance to strive for a better life. ”
We must involve young people in politics and ensure social inclusion to avoid xenophobia and radicalism. And education is the weapon against intolerance, in addition to the strong engagement of citizens, especially young people, to rebuild and renew political and social arrangements, so that the changes work for all.
Early in his speech, Obama left the audience somewhat bewildered by saying that in a way, we are experiencing the best of times and the worst of times. The world is more prosperous than ever because of globalization, but this has come with an industrial disruption and wage stagnation in many advanced economies, leaving many workers and many communities afraid of the prospects for themselves and their children, thinking that they will have fewer opportunities and not better ones in the future.
Despite the challenges, the president showed an optimistic vision of the future. Notwithstanding all the problems we face, the world is safer, better educated, more tolerant than at any other moment in human history.
With an unusual conviction, Obama, referring to education, said that if called upon to advise any nation, the first job he would indicate would be that of ensuring an educational system that would reach everyone, and that is adapted to the realities of a rapidly evolving technological economy. He said investments in education should privilege early childhood when the brain functions like a sponge.
He emphasized the fact that the world is much more connected and so, just as the internet has the opportunity to spread knowledge and opportunities, it also gives power to those who spread hate, and can be an instrument that can contribute to divide people.
Not without reason, in this age of instant information, where everything gives us a litany of bad news without interruption, it is natural that people seek some sense of certainty and control over their lives. We see great clashes between cultures, people preoccupied with traditional values, their ideas and roots being crushed. Therefore, it is inevitable that our policies and social arrangements also have this rupture, just as these technological ruptures do.
Obama also spoke of his daughters, who waist much time on the internet. He signaled how much better it would be if they had face-to-face meetings and resolve issues by the exchange of ideas.
He sparked reflection about the internet, services on demand, cars without drivers, deliveries by drones, if all this will help the economy for everyone and not only for the few who are at the top.
According to Obama, “We are more connected than ever before, but that makes it easier for us to go back to our own tribes, our own communities, where we only listen to people who think the same way we do. And we never challenge our own assumptions, because everything we read, all we see is simply what an algorithm told us we should see. ”
The main message that remains is that the world is changing at an exponential speed. It’s practically all connected, but we cannot expect others to solve the problems for us.
Only by discussing and exchanging ideas can we hope for a happy future. But the main thing, Obama pointed out, is that democracy can best be cured by increasing political participation and by replacing entrenched power that is occupied by the same people for a long time, with no passion for what they do and with no new ideas.
To have a better world, we have to have better attitudes. To have healthy politics, we have to have a healthy society. After all, as Obama says in his favorite mantra: “Politics is a reflection of society.”