This cannot be the 60s and 70s encounter groups. To my
mind the way to connect people, the way to change people's values is
ultimately through, primarily through experiences. Experiences linked perhaps
through an Anna Deavere Smith, through a film, through a novel, or through
interacting with each Conversation simply sets the stage for an that can be
transforming. So the test of engagementthe national conversation will be
whether it leads to forms of engagement that have that transformative
quality them. Transforming in the sense of redefining our
sense of community.
How will we know if the president's initiative has been successful? Here's
one test. One test, it seems to me, it is whether we see at the end of this
some stirring among people around the country, a stirring of leaders who try to
define and shoulder their burden, our burden, for carrying the struggle
In my view, my generation--Bill Clinton's generation, the post-Martin
Luther King generation--has utterly failed to define and shoulder that burden.
At a minimum this next year and what comes after it has to break the back of
that in action and that lack of vision.
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