Stay Positive: Bill Clinton's Message to Aid Groups at InterAction Forum 2017

Photo By: Tech Change

President Bill Clinton urged representatives from more than 100 U.S. international aid groups to remain positive in the face of severe cuts in humanitarian and development assistance proposed by the Trump administration.

In an hour-long, understated speech, punctuated by humor, Clinton called on aid groups to continue their efforts to champion diversity and the positive forces of interdependence while seeking the most effective ways to assist communities in the world’s poorest places. 

Clinton’s speech served as the opening keynote address at the three-day InterAction Forum 2017 -- the first major meeting of US-based international aid groups since President Trump proposed major cuts in U.S. assistance in his FY 2018 budget.

“It’s a bad thing to cut USAID,” Clinton said, referring to proposed cuts in President Trump’s FY 2018 budget for the U.S. Agency for International Development. “This is a big deal,” he said. But Clinton quickly added, “Don’t be discouraged. I have seen this movie before.”

Clinton added that pursuing an “us vs them, zero-sum game” approach would fail in the end. “Every successive age in history has allowed us to expand the definition of us and shrink the definition of them,” Clinton said.

“We've never had more potential to spread hope through real learning, through real doing, through the alleviation of pain and the provision of opportunity,” he said. "The number one job for this community is to increase the positive -- and reduce the negative -- forces of interdependence."
Clinton indicated the many political leaders in Washington understood the important role InterAction members play in assisting communities around the world. “Every time you save a life, every time you stand up for human rights, every time you do something good….you increase the likelihood of public support for what you're doing,” the President said.

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