Reflections on The Commonwealth Club ‘Distinguished Citizens Award’ 2019, by John Hope Bryant.
To the question, 'is the central mission of The Commonwealth Club of creating, curating and cultivating civil discourse important and relevant in 2019' -- the answer is 'more than ever,' it is.
On Friday, May 17th, 2019, I was deeply honored to gather together with my friends from The Commonwealth Club, its president Ms. Gloria Duffy, and my fellow co-honorees philanthropist Mr. William & Mrs. Susan Oberndorf, Suzanne DiBianca, Chief Philanthropy Officer, accepting on behalf of corporate awardee Salesforce, and of course none other than former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, for the 2019 Distinguished Citizen Award Gala. The Commonwealth Club has been holding this Gala for 116 years, and presenting this award for the vast majority of that time to leaders.
It was a very special evening, which culminated in a conversation on the state of our world, and the financial and economic empowerment work of Operation HOPE on the ground, led by new Operation HOPE Global Board Member Jed York, who also happens to be the owner and CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, and as well a Board Member for The Commonwealth Club.
A Big Tent.
What the Commonwealth Club does is extremely important, as they are helping to insure the framing of civil discourse and civil conversation in an increasingly uncivilized public world.
We can disagree without being disagreeable.
We can frame our public discourse from the context of win/win, versus a win/lose or win/destroy perspective.
We can once again value conversation and what I call positive, constructive friction. Only through constructive friction do we grow as individuals and society.
Every good marriage -- whether of husband and wife, of neighbor to neighbor, or consumer to the market, or community and citizen to their government, or government to government -- grows through constructive friction.
The Commonwealth Club has always been a place where this constructive conversation thrives, and I was deeply, deeply honored that amongst all that have come through the public halls of the organization over the past year, they selected the work of Operation HOPE and me, to highlight with their highest award.
I was also proud to stand with members the San Francisco 49er's family, who also attended the event, as we will soon be rolling out some powerful community economic and financial empowerment partnership initiatives, to help uplift individuals and communities in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Our local Bay Area partnership will tie up to and with our new national partnership with the NFL and it's NFL Inspire Change Initiative. This is what we call our silver rights movement work, on the ground, impacting lives community by community.