Part of Orientation
I know you have gone through all kinds of official memoranda as part of orientation to handle the public office of president, especially that you are coming from the private sector, but I feel there is no harm in adding something to knowledge is never found in a pile.
There are many, often complex issues involved in runing the state, as opposed from runing a business enterprise.
I find particularly befitting the words used by Bill Gates at Harvard University commencement on June 6th 2007, he said “I learned a lot here at Harvard University about new ideas in economics and politics.
I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences. But humanity’s greatest advances are not to reduce inequity.
Whether through democracy, opportunity, reducing inequity is the highest human achievement, I left campus knowing very little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in the country.
And I know nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries. It took me decades to find out.
You graduates came to Harvard at a different time/ you know more about the world’s inequities than the classes that came before.
In your years here, I hope you’ve had a chance to think about how in this age of accelerating technology we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them.
Imagine, just for the sake of discussion that you had a few hours a week, and a few dollars a month to donate to a cause- and you wanted to spend time and money where it would have the greatest impact in saving and improving lives. Where would you spend it?
For Melinda and for me, the challenge is the same, how can we do the most good for the greatest number with the resources we have.
During our discussions on this question, Melinda and I read an article about the millions of children who were dying every year in poor countries from diseases that we had long ago made harmless in this country.
Measles, Malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, yellow fever. One disease I had never even heard of, rotavirus, was killing a half million kids each year – none of them in the United States.
We were shocked, we had just assumed that if millions of children were dying and they could be saved.
The world would make it a priority to discover and deliver the medicines to save them. But it did not.
For under a dollar, there were interventions that could save lives that just weren’t being delivered.
If you believe that every life has equal value its revolting to learn that some lives are seen as worth saving and others not.
We said to ourselves this can’t be true. But it is true, it deserves to be the priority of our giving.
So we began our work in the same way anyone here would begin it. We asked, how could the world let these children die? The answer is simple and harsh.
The market did not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidies it. So the children died because their mothers and fathers had no power in the market and no voice in the system. But you and I have both.
We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit on at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities.
We also can press Governments around the world to spend tax payers’ money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.
If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world.
This task is opened. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.
All of us here in this yard, at one time or another have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing, not because we did not care, but because we didn’t know what to do.
If we had known how to help, we would have acted. The baronies to change is not too little caring, it is too much complexity.
To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.
Even with the advent of the internet and 24 hours news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems.
When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause and prevent similar crashes in the future.
The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths.
We do not hear much about these deaths. The media covers what’s new and millions of people dying is nothing new.
So it stays in the background, where it’s easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the problem.
It’s hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don’t know how to help and so we look away.
The defining and ongoing innovations of this age biotechnology, the computer, the internet, give us a chance we’ve never had before to end extreme poverty and death from preventable diseases.
We need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another they are making it possible not just for national governments, but for universities, corporations, smaller organisations and even individuals to see problems, see approaches and measure the impact of their efforts to address the hunger, poverty and desperation.
Mr. President, your fellow American billionaire has clearly been through a self-orientation course of serving the wider global community from an individual and corporate point of view.
You being at the helm of the American society, with the economic command of resources and the technological advancement should embrace the Bill Gates’ thinking and commitment of personal, corporate and public resources to the just cause of humanity.
I am confident that the impact in the world will be greater as public resources of the American government from the biggest economy of the world getting to the needy across the globe. More lives will be saved and there shall grow a moral authority in more nations.
Developed and developing in more corporations across the world, making the merciful acts of helping other human beings become a regular occurrence among individuals’ corporations, communities as well as Governments. The wheels of mercy will be twining, saving lives as they roll on.
Mr. President, there are many lessons we all need to learn from Bill Gates self-orientation to the service of humanity. Some are;
– An individual’s decision matters in life. Bill Gates made a decision to help the needy. You made a decision to help the public and run public affairs, so your total commitment must be to the public in America and the world over. This is the full meaning of public office – a servant of the people. Remember the world of Bill Gates reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.
– Your Administration has “buried” Obamacare surely that is not offering quality health care for many Americans and their disadvantaged relatives spread across the globe. The burying of Obamacare, you are accentuating rather than reducing inequities.
– It took time for Bill Gates to know the conditions of living of many people in developing countries. In your case however being in public office, you have quickly learned about the unspeakable poverty in developing countries and as a man holding public office, as well as a Christian you have to be of service from both the personal and public office point of view. The plight ordinary people must be in your prayers and actions every day.
– If you believe that every life has equal value, then you can quickly see that the victims of war in Syria and everywhere else are as badly affected as the victims of poor productivity in the world of advanced technology; human islands of riches are always surrounded by the seas and oceans of poverty which is actually the source of global insecurity.
– It is time both the market and the governments acted together in attaining the highest human achievement of reducing inequities. Governments as a matter of universal practice now under millennium development goals and now sustainable development.
Development goals should be able to make the vulnerable groups and person’s service, revive their productivity and sustain themselves. And I think it is also correct to make those private corporations with reasonable assistance programmes to the poor get tax holidays.
This will mean just another channel of government, private sector united attack against poverty. For this to work, there should be zero tolerance on corruption. Otherwise, it can be just more profits for the heartless corporate owners and “money making” for the deceitful government officials, leaving the needy in continued misery and squalor.
-The cardinal point is that we are all human beings. Mr. President, you are a human being, like Bill Gates, like other humans beings all over the world. In the world of Bill Gates “we need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another.”
Donald Chanda- Lecturer