The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Obama Video Clips > 2006-05-00 - Keynote at Building with Books

 Keynote at Building with Books

For a group of young people that have served countless hours and helped hundreds and dozens of people,  what they are learning is the ability to see the world through somebody  else's eyes, and to stand in somebody else's shoes.  And that strikes me as the most important quality that we need in America right now and around the world right now

If you think about so much of the conflict, the war, the cruelties that we have been witnessing,  so much of if it seems to have to do with the inability of people to   recognize themselves in somebody else. 

So they see a village where there's no electricity and no running water, people who speak a different language and who are illiterate and look differently than they are, and the assumption is, well, they are not part of my life. That I have no connection to them and what a program like this does it it makes young people recognize that these people are in fact like me. They are  my bothers and my sisters.

And the young people who have had that experience will bring that back to Chicago and may make them think differently about the folks closer to home, on the south side of Chicago, or the west side of Chicago, or in the Latino community or the Asian American  community. 

And It helps to stitch together this country, which has been the unique promise of America for so many generations.