I don’t know as I was terrible invested in the G-8/ NATO Summit conversation. Seemed to me that if all the invitees showed up it would be fine – and great for restaurants, taxis, hotels, and overtime for civil servants – but if they didn’t all come life would go on. I think, as do most natives, that Chicago IS a world class city with much to recommend it and that we don’t need to defensively worry that we were/weren’t worthy or prepared for the G-8 meeting. If the powers that be think it would be safer for those folks to be at Camp David, then they would be smart to move the meeting. We will enjoy feeding and housing and protecting the participants at the NATO Summit regardless.
But an interesting article caught my eye last week in the paper about ANOTHER meeting that is taking place here in Chicago without very much fanfare at all. In late April the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is taking place here at the UIC Forum. It is quite an august gathering: President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa from Poland, Mikhail Gorbachev from Russia, Oscar Arias Sanchez from Costa Rica and F W de Klerk from South Africa. In conjunction with this meeting the RFK Compass Program, headed by Kerry Kennedy, is meeting to encourage pension funds to invest in peace and human rights initiatives. Some of the biggest names in Chicago money management will be in attendance.
Now THIS seems important to me. Not only am I in concert with the efforts of the RFK Compass Program, but I am impressed that these individuals — whose names will be in the history books for all our children to read and learn about — will be right here in my city. They will ALSO be staying in our hotels, eating our food and travelling our streets. I have contemporaries who stood in vile weather to catch a glimpse of Lech Walesa; I have devout Buddhist friends who would pass up riches to hear the Dalai Lama; and like him or not, Jimmy Carter has kept the dialog about peace and human rights alive on behalf of the United States for more years as a citizen than he spent as President.
I honestly don’t think that I would recognize the names of the NATO participant who will attend the Summit, but I am honored to know that these leaders for world peace will be our guests for a few days. I hope that they enjoy our hospitality.