What Bill Clinton and Eastern University have in common

By looking at the author of the new book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, you wouldn’t think the this person’s views would be parallel to the views outlined by Eastern University’s mission statement of promoting faith, reason and justice.

But former president Bill Clinton’s book is a unique look at how individual deeds can save lives and solve problems, and offers compelling examples of activism in both the citizen and corporate worlds of the 21st century. It is an accurate description of the economic inequality in the world, and it seems that there are not enough good people in the world to combat it.

Situations such as poverty and unequal educational opportunities aren’t given thought by the government. Clinton’s book encourages our nation to band together, examine our skills and what we can contribute to helping others and then act on it for the betterment of ourselves and others less fortunate.

Although the book is conveying a positive message to the masses, the way Clinton goes about it may not be in the most effective manner.

The beginning of the book consists of Clinton naming many celebrities that have contributed to making changes in the world with the wealth they have accrued. Specifying the socialites and big names in Hollywood that Clinton knows doesn’t paint the most positive image for those who want to make a difference but don’t have the money or the status.

But later on, he goes into describing different people who have dedicated their lives of middle class normalcy to a mission to help others.

For example, Clinton talks about a New York couple who visited Africa for a wedding and there discovered the extreme absence of textbooks and school supplies available to African schoolchildren.

As a result of this discovery, they founded the U.S.-Africa Children’s Fellowship and created a partnership with the Zimbabwe Organization of Rural Associations for Progress. They’ve worked with such organizations to locate schools in need in Zimbabwe and then ship them supplies including books, school supplies, toys, games, sports equipment, bicycles, clothing, sewing machines and other items. This couple didn’t have to throw their money or fame at the injustice to make it go away; they used their compassion and time in order to make a difference in the world.

John Freeman, president of the National Book Critics Circle, says, “Bill Clinton has arguably been more effective outside the Oval Office than he was inside it.”

In a review of the book by Random House Inc. Clinton has this to say: “We all have the capacity to do great things. My hope is that the people and stories in this book will lift spirits, touch hearts and demonstrate that citizen activism and service can be a powerful agent of change in the world.”

Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World was released on Sept. 4 and is available at Warner Library.

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