The 42nd US President was speaking to a packed hall at Dublin Castle for Concern Worldwide’s 50th anniversary conference, ‘Resurgence of Humanity: Breaking the Cycle of Conflict, Hunger and Human Suffering.’
President Clinton, who said he had witnessed Concern’s work in Haiti and on the African continent, said: “The Irish peace process and the work of Concern is rooted in both our common humanity and our notion of what I would call inclusive tribalism. We are all tribal.
“Our common humanity is the most important thing. In an interdependent world, we have to decide which is more important, our differences or our common humanity. We must expand the definition of ‘us’ and shrink the definition of ‘them.’
“When you think about Concern, it’s basically Ireland at its best, even though it is increasingly global.
“It’s about inclusive tribalism, inclusive economics, inclusive social policy, inclusive politics.
“Average people who feel stuck in their own lives don’t have enough space left to be generous to others. It’s not a good time. There is literally no final defeats or victory. This is a demon you have to battle your whole life.”
President Clinton praised Ireland for its overseas humanitarian work and the multicultural diversity of its capital, Dublin.
He said: “Ireland is the only country in the world that every single day since the United Nations was formed after World War Two, has had a citizen in some country trying to help people who needed help because they were poor or repressed because of conflict. No other country in the world can say that.
“There is something in your DNA that makes you feel connected to the rest of the world.
“You go down a street in Dublin and it’s so diverse that you may as well be in a street in Manhattan. And yet you don’t feel anything like the sense of uncertainty you see in some parts of America or some places [in the UK] where they voted for Brexit.
“In the end, like the songs you sing and the things you live should not be defined by the colour of your skin, the creed you worship or anything else.”