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An Interview with
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright 

April 15, 2007

 

 

Introduction:

Madeline Albright, former US Ambassador to the UN, later became the first female Secretary of State and the highest ranking woman in the history of the US government.

"I now see through a glass darkly, later it will be revealed."- Madeline Albright, using a quote from the New Testament

 

Spencer:

Madame Secretary , you should be so proud of your book.  In it, you quote theologian Paul Tillich who wrote, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it’s an element of faith.” 

Former President Clinton told you, “the question comes down to whether we are willing to admit that we are not in possession of the whole truth. That is the whole shooting match.” How is this central theme so important if we are to achieve peace in the world?

 

Secretary Albright:

I think that what is important about this is and what troubles me about President Bush, is the certainty of what he believes. It means that we’re not open to new ideas and different questions.

And what President Clinton said to me is quoted from the New Testament and he said, as Apostle Paul said, “I now see through a glass darkly, later it will be revealed,” meaning that there is no way a human being currently can know the whole truth. I think it helps if we recognize that we don’t have all the answers, that there are other countries and other leaders that we need to respect who might be able to help us and we can’t think that we are the only ones that have the absolute truth and that others are not really that enlightened.

 

Spencer:

You say that Christians, Muslims and Jews must realize how much they have in common. It seems we ought to be able to understand each other better.  Why is this so difficult to achieve?

 

Secretary Albright:

The bottom line is that the holy books of all the monotheistic religions all have some pretty blood curdling parts.  Some parts of the Old Testament are pretty grim and the Koran is pretty grim and the New Testament has some grim scenes in it.  I think that people seize what they want to out of those books and from what they are taught. 

And what has to happen, I know I could be called naive about this, but basically, we have to try to find the common ground issues because in all those books, there also is exactly the same language about social justice, about love, charity, peace.  And we are not, in fact, emphasizing those because it’s very easy to look at what are the parts that appeal to this kind of virulent aspect of human nature.  And it’s gonna take a much more active work. 

And I think your group, specifically, I mean this is what you’re talking about is social justice in action and it requires a small group of good people pushing and pushing on it because I find so stunning in human nature, and I’m sure you all do too, is that the same people who will go and work in Africa in "Doctors Without Borders" or go and do these unbelievable things to help each other are somewhere else slitting each other’s throats.  And that is why organizations make all the difference.  It’s hard work, but I think it is something that has to be done to find that common ground.