Matt Damon is an actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter. He is also a philanthropist and activist, having co-founded such organizations as Water.org and Not On Our Watch.
MATT DAMON: Paul said, the first night I met him, that what Haiti needs-- and, in keeping with what you were saying, Linda, is a Marshall Plan. That’s really what it needs. And, in all the kind of extreme poverty work where they do all these polls, people dying unnecessarily, and because they’re extremely poor, doesn’t actually move people.
The national security argument doesn’t even move people. That was a new argument that came out post-9/11, that we were hoping would kind of get some traction. We said “Look, well, there’s a Midrasah right there. If you're not talking to them, they’re going to be, you know-- ” And on the heels of all these kind of failing attempts to kind of garnish the fort, what they did find had some traction in their polling, was if programs are effective, then people will stay with them.
So, for me, it’s just to try to find things that are working and try to put as much attention on them as possible, because people, I think, want to feel like-- They don’t want to be told there’s this problem that they can't do anything about. On the contrary, they want to be told that there is this giant problem, and they want to rise to the challenge of fixing it. And I think we find ourselves at a time when we have serious challenges here.
And so, perhaps that’s going to be the movement and the challenge of Obama if he can actually really get people to answer this call. But I hope that, kind of, poverty here and issues here, in the addressing of those issues, the issues of extreme poverty, which is really a different and more incredibly horrible thing, could also be a part of that. I’m hoping that this kind of new hopeful and youthful energy is directed at those problems, because those problems are actually fixable. And there are practical, very practical simple solutions that do work, and they can work.
JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUMColumbia Point, Boston MA 02125 (617) 514-1600