Distinguished Speaker: Robin Wright

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend yet another of the Newport Beach Public Library’s Distinguished speaker series featuring mega-journalist Robin Wright. If you live in this area and don’t know about this series, or have not yet attended one of these events, hang up from this blog and get your tickets for the next shindig.

As for last night’s speaker…not really sure where to begin. If you based your assessment of her credentials on her experience in a SINGLE Middle Eastern country, you would be amazed at her depth, history and comprehensive reporting from the scene. Now, throw in the rest of the Middle East, Africa, and many of the world’s other trouble spots and you are beginning to get the picture of who this woman is and a little about what she has done. Beginning in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, she was either in attendance or reporting on most of the major events in the region. She has interviewed Arafat, Kadafy and even Ahmadinejad the current lightning-rod leader of Iran.

Her lecture focused on the “Future of the Middle East,” a topic critical not only to the European theater, but also the rest of the world. Most of us think our relationship with the Middle East is most easily observed at the gas pumps, but it goes far beyond that, and our current, political situation shows just how much we have to learn in regards to this area, the population, religions and our future if we are to coexist.

Her lecture was encompassing, but featured two points I thought most poignant. First, odds are, we have not seen the last of the terror attacks on our soil. Not that this is a big surprise, but the planners are still planning and killing us is a at the top of the daily “to do” list. Second, and perhaps most important, there is a sliver of hope from the region. Wright said that for the first time there seems to be a feeling that fundamentalism might not be able to provide for the future, that war, killing and driving wedges between peoples is not the future the population wants to endure.

The greatest leaders of people have always been those that unite, and many of these fundamentalist groups have yet to learn this, or don’t believe this to be the main goal. Imagine the power of feeding your people, of building infrastructure and of providing a vision of a future that offers even the promise of peace.

Just for kicks, I’ve included my notes from the night. Good luck reading them.