In the new landscape of America, with the ground shifting under our feet, we will each choose the issues more important to us. They are not competitive. I believe deeply that all these social concerns are one concern. I believe we cannot—we must not—pit national problems against international problems or tax reform against climate change or immigration policy against sexism or education against hunger. We cannot divide up the world like that or let ourselves be divided.
Because I have only so much time and resources in my personal life, I have decided to begin with one issue which I can burrow down into. One issue that I will research and know and examine thoughtfully and deeply and make my own. For many reasons, I am choosing the issue of our foreign aid to the world’s two billion poorest. I will be watching closely what happens in the area of USAID, and I will advocate for programs that do good rather than harm. I will advocate for an understanding of all our connections to the world. An understanding of our larger self-interest, as well as our moral imperative.
I will be standing right next to people who have chosen other issues equally central to what needs to be done today. I see us all standing together now, shoulder to shoulder, not competing with each other but raising one voice, one song with many harmonies. Or, to use another metaphor—in Malawi, there is a saying: Mutu umodzi susenza denga. One head cannot hold up a roof. In the building of a home, the last step is for a group of villagers to lift up together the thatched roof onto the walls of burnt-mud bricks.