Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Ohio State on Thursday afternoon of the importance of cooperation in public service and problem-solving when striving to solve global issues.
“Our capacity for cooperation is far greater than any other species,” he told the crowd. “The future belongs to the cooperators. The ultimate lesson of the interdependent world is that the cooperators will prevail in the end.”
Clinton also tried to inspire the young people in the audience to continue valuing the potential impact of public service.
“I believe in the world we live in that every citizen’s job should include some public service because this is the most interdependent time in human history, in ways that are good and bad,” Clinton said.
The former president mostly stayed away from current events and politics, only mentioning his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, briefly at the beginning of his 43-minute speech when he told the story of how they got married. He spent the majority of his speech encouraging the audience to make the world a more cooperative place.
“We are condemned to share the future. The only question is, on what terms will we share?” he said. “Those of you who are best at public service will have the most influence on what those terms are and what the world looks like.”
The two-term president shared with the audience that he grew up without a television in his home, which he jokingly said could have been the reason he was elected president because it taught him a valuable lesson at a very young age.
“I was 10 when my family got a television. Our major source of entertainment up until then was meals, conversations at meals and storytelling,” he said. “It was around that table that I learned that everybody has a story.”
Bill Clinton was invited to speak at OSU on Thursday by the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.
“I admire Ohio State not only for its size and its football and basketball teams but for its commitment to public service,” he said at the Mershon Auditorium.
Former Sen. John Glenn had the honor of delivering Clinton the only question asked following his speech. Glenn asked the former president to share his thoughts concerning the Clinton Foundation, which was established after Clinton left the White House in 2001. Glenn, a longtime friend of the former president, praised the nonprofit organization.
Clinton waived his speaking fee for the hour-long appearance at Mershon Auditorium. Before arriving in the capital city, he visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio for the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, a peace agreement that ended the Bosnian War in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“There are so many ways to be creative in public service,” Clinton said as he wrapped up his speech. “I’m an old man now, but I’m very optimistic about the future.”