Today was another incredible day here at the Dead Sea in Jordan, on the occasion of the World Economic Forum. I am here in my capacity as a Young Global Leader. The morning started with an interactive breakfast between WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab and fellow YGL's from the Middle East region. We talked mostly about our preparations for our YGL Summit coming up in Zermatt, Switzerland, where of course I plan to make the issue of poverty a central focus. As I have said before, "with the exception of God's love, everything else in life is directly or indirectly about money. Think about it... From the time you wake up in the morning and brush your teeth with the tooth paste you purchased with the money you,'...or someone that loves you earned,' until the time you drive home from work in the car you are making payments on and paying for gasoline for, ....your day constantly intersects with money."
Furthermore, poverty intersects, effects and heavily influences the issues around health and wellness, crime and public safety, the environment and a host of other vitally important issues. We will see what happens, but it will not fall to the side for lack of me highlighting and pushing the issue.
Later in the day, as the day was winding down, I ran into a great man, Mr. Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and Chairman of the Labour Party. As I introduced myself and began to explain who I am and what I do he stopped me and said, "....I am aware of your work. It is very important (work). Keep it up." Humbling, and appreciated.
On a completely different topic, the people here in Jordan have been fantastic. And frankly, we all look like we are somehow related, if not distant relatives... More on this later. It is also interesting being in a majority Muslim country, wearing a cross from the Vatican around my neck in clear view (it is casual business attire during most of the WEF meeting in Jordan). People look at me for a moment, and then - always - a smile. I have experienced an extraordinary level of kindness, professionalism... and tolerance. The perception of this region and the reality, based on what I have seen first hand, does not match up. This is a stunningly beautiful part of the world, with people who have as much intelligence, ambition and faith as any American. And speaking of Americans, First Lady Laura Bush spoke here today. She did America proud. The President should ask her to represent the U.S. more often (smile).
And so tomorrow I am off to see the lost city of Petra -- 2,000 plus years old, and "lost" for more than 1,000 years. Cannot wait to see it (thanks Shelley Freeman for turning me on to Petra to begin with friend). But what really has me excited, is I found out we are 20 minutes from the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus! Come.....on....now!! I cannot believe this. Someone from Jordan told me this casually. I will BE there tomorrow. It will be a long day, but well worth it. We will also pass by the burial site for Moses on the way (3.5 hour drive I am told) to Petra. Wow....
Until later. Onward, with HOPE