Former President Barack Obama talked about his future plans for his post-presidency life at a conference Sunday in Japan, addressing how he might shape “a million” new, young leaders in his mold.
The wide-ranging discussion repeatedly touched on the Obama Foundation’s efforts to engage the digital space to help young people in the U.S. and across the world get connected.
“If I could do that effectively, then — you know — I would create a hundred or a thousand or a million young Barack Obamas or Michelle Obamas,” Obama said. “Or, the next group of people who could take that baton in that relay race that is human progress.”
During the discussion, Obama acknowledged the great potential that young people have in making a difference, pointing to the March for Our Lives anti-gun violence demonstrations, led by high schoolers, in Washington, D.C., and around the globe. He also knocked “old men” in power.
“A lot of our problems are caused by old men. No offense, men, who are old,” he quipped.
The former president bemoaned the current news and social media environments in which people are too easily able to find news that fits their personal narratives and signaled that he is seeking a way to create a more productive forum.
“One of the things we’re going to be spending time on, through the Foundation, is finding ways in which we can study this phenomenon of social media and the Internet to see are there ways in which we can bring people from different perspectives to start having a more civil debate and listen to each other more carefully,” Obama said.
Obama was in Japan following stops in New Zealand and Australia. His week-long trip also includes a stop in Singapore.
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