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Middlebury College – Community

July 22, 2007

I recently listened to the Commencement speech at Middlebury College made by former President Bill Clinton in May 2007. The town is just 45 minutes drive from where I live.



Middlebury College

Transcript
Movie

(from the homepage of Middlebury College)

It was an moving speech, highlighting the importance of community and humanity. Asides from his excellent eloquence and charisma, I find some interesting points in the speech.

  • Every successful community has three things.

    • A broadly shared opportunity to participate.

    • A broadly felt responsibility for the success of the enterprise, whatever it is

    • And a genuine sense of belonging
  • Questions of community and identity, personal identity, will determine our collective capacity to deal with all the problems of the world today.

  • Our differences are really neat, they make life more interesting, and they aid in the search for truth. But our common humanity matters more.

  • All of the world’s difficulties today are premised on the simple fact that our differences are more important than whatever we have in common.

  • Genetically, all human beings are 99.9 percent the same. Everything you can possibly observe about another that seems different is rooted in one-tenth of one percent of your genetic makeup.

  • But most of us spend 90 percent of our time focused on the one-tenth of one percent, don’t we?

  • What you do with that one-tenth of one percent of you that’s different makes all the difference, but if you think that it’s more important than what you have in common, then the problems that bedevil the world are likely to overwhelm all the wonderful things that you might otherwise do.

  • “I am because you are.” Our differences cannot be as important as our common humanity, because we couldn’t even exist in any meaningful sense without each other.

  • The bigotry you will have to work hard to avoid is not seeing everyone else.

  • If there’s one thing I’ve learned traveling the world, it’s that intelligence and effort are equally distributed; organization, investment, and opportunity are not, and so too many people remain unseen.
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