Last night Megan and I went to “An Evening with Bill Clinton” at Rexall Place here in Edmonton. The former president was in town to talk about his life, his work, and to offer some advice and guidance on the future. Patrick LaForge of the Edmonton Oilers, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, and a representative from CIBC Wood Gundy (didn’t catch his name, sorry) were also on hand to make some opening remarks and do their part to introduce the man of the evening. Ralph screwed up though, or someone did at least, as he introduced Mr. Clinton to the stage when really he should have introduced the guy from CIBC! It was kind of funny.
The president talked a lot about security and terrorism actually, more than I thought he would. It was part of his “framework” for looking at the world. His main argument is that the world is interdependent, and we need to recognize that and move towards integrated communities. So whenever he reads a news article or sees a report on TV, he asks himself the same question – does this help us move closer to an integrated community or not? Based on that, he takes the proper course of action. Obviously he layed it out in much more detail.
He also spoke about the worldwide problem of obesity, other security threats like biological and chemical weapons, the spread of disease, and climate change. Seems he has done work in each of these areas since leaving office. The evening finished with a short Q&A, where we learned that the last movie he watched was Crash, and he doesn’t know whether or not his wife Hillary will run for office in 2008. He did say, however, that if she did run, she’d do a magnificent job. He said many great things about her. We also learned that the thing he misses most about being the president is the work.
The takeway, he told us, is that we can effect change without being rich or doing huge things. He talked about the opportunities provided by the Internet, and shared some really interesting stories of people he has met over the years who have made a big difference through small action. He also mentioned the rise of non-governmental organizations, and when he did so, he almost sounded proud. I got the feeling that he has special respect for NGOs.
Bill Clinton is actually a rather engaging speaker, much more so than I expected (his hair is also a lot whiter now than I thought it was). As is often the case with these kinds of events, it was his stories and experiences that were the most interesting to hear about, and he certainly has had lots of those. It was a really great event, I’m glad I was able to go.
You can learn more about the Clinton Foundation and the work Bill Clinton does at their website. The Wikipedia entry on him is quite extensive with lots of great information too.