— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 1, 2019
Courtesy of CBC:
Former U.S. president Barack Obama told a Canadian audience that the world may be a dark place since he left the White House, but its natural upward momentum can be corrected through a positive story of tolerance to counter the “primal” narrative of populism that has taken hold around the world.
“I left the office cautiously optimistic,” said Obama, sparking laughter among the 11,400 paying attendees at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Friday night.
“I know why you all are laughing.”
That was as close as Obama came to confronting the politics of the man who followed him to the White House. Wearing an open-collar white dress shirt and dark grey suit, Obama sat answering questions for about an hour from Tobias Lutke, the founder and CEO of the Ottawa-based commerce company Shopify.
It wasn’t a real journalistic interview, but when asked how optimistic he felt as he left the presidency, Obama answered like he often did in that setting: with a long, grim essayistic sweep punctuated with hope.
“I believe the long-term trajectory of humanity is in a positive direction,” he said. “But you get dark ages before the Renaissance.”
“You get World War Two and 60 million dead before there’s a post-World War Two order that stabilizes societies.”
The world, he argued, has never been healthier, wealthier, better educated, more tolerant and less violent than right now.
But it’s an age of political and social disruption where technology is gorging us with information and no one can agree on what constitutes the truth so a coherent debate can ensue, he said.
“It’s indisputable that things have gotten better. But in that march of progress we had the Holocaust, and we had Jim Crow and we had the Killing Fields. So we cannot be complacent.”
He said an “ancient story” that has appeared time and again throughout history is back and it is very “primal.”
I swear that Obama should have a 1-800 number where people can call to hear a recording of him telling them that everything is going to be alright and not to give up hope.
I know that whenever I start to feel a little depressed and hopeless that just hearing his voice is enough to perk me up and remind me that tomorrow is another day and that we can make of it what we want.