Mr. Robert A. Iger
September 23, 2014
Thank you.

I’m proud to share this evening with my fellow honorees, Ms. Barra and President Peña Nieto; and it’s a privilege to be among so many people who are committed to a more just and peaceful world.

I’m also honored to share the stage with Rabbi Schneier. We first met at a State Department event a few years ago, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer magnitude of his mission, or to be inspired by his unwavering optimism.

As CEO of The Walt Disney Company, I happen to know a little something about optimism. It’s an essential part of our company’s DNA that emanates directly from our founder, Walt Disney, who always looked beyond today to the possibilities of tomorrow, absolutely convinced that our future could be brighter than our past.

This optimism is present in every Disney story. It’s why we still love them today. They reflect our shared ideals of love and friendship…courage and empowerment. And of course, acceptance and inclusiveness.

We connect with these stories on a deep emotional level because, despite our many differences, most people share these basic human values. We want good to conquer evil, peace instead of conflict and, who doesn’t want to live “happily ever after”?

Unfortunately, it’s never that easy in real life; especially in today’s tumultuous times – marked by rulers targeting their own people, cowards waging war behind human shields, and radical militants spreading terror.

Even people who believe in the same God are killing each other over the proper way to worship… and we are losing more young people every day to hateful rhetoric masquerading as faith and ideology.

And yet, we are living in one of the most innovative and creative periods in human history. The fact that so much hopelessness and hate can even exist in this era of endless possibility is a tragic irony of the modern world.

Our future will be determined by our ability to resolve this disturbing dichotomy and it will take more than military might and diplomacy.

It will take leaders willing to put aside politics and platitudes.

It will take the return of civil discourse. None of us have all the answers, so we have to be willing to open our minds and engage with people we disagree with.

And it will take a shared commitment from the global community to create real, tangible opportunities where few exist today. For the world to become a place of peace, it must first be a place of hope – where people can dream of more than survival…and parents can envision a better life for their children.

The task is enormous, but there are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Our children represent an emerging generation of change agents who don’t automatically define people by race, faith, orientation, or anything else.
They are far more focused on what we all have in common than what makes us different and the technological forces that bind them together can, and hopefully will, create a stronger sense of community and empowerment.

Today we live in an era where the miraculous is becoming commonplace, with an unprecedented ability to connect with people around the world.

We’re just beginning to realize the full potential of this global connectivity…but we’re already seeing remarkable change. Millions of voices once silenced by oppression can now be heard…and information can now flow into the dark corners of the world where ignorance has fueled intolerance for far too long.

Unfortunately, the global forces of hate and violence are also using this technology to recruit and radicalize a new generation - uploading their rhetoric and brutality to a worldwide audience with the push of a button.

The same technology that brings this darkness into our lives also gives us the means to find and defeat the people behind it. The global community has the power – and the obligation – to use these new tools to help undermine and eradicate these forces.

We must never become anesthetized to these atrocities. We must not numb ourselves to the horror, or allow it to become the world’s “new normal.”

Fortunately, for every horrific image that defies human decency, there are literally billions of people around the world sharing uplifting personal experiences, weaving a social fabric that can tie us together.

Our future will be determined by the strength of those ties -- our shared commitment to overlook our differences and work together to give people everywhere a reason to believe things can improve.

We’re all here tonight because we’re optimists. We believe humanity can do better….and we’re willing to be part of that effort.

I applaud you all for your commitment to this critical cause, and for your support of this important organization.
The Walt Disney Company is proud to stand with The Appeal of Conscience Foundation tonight and always. I thank you for this incredible honor….and I proudly accept it on behalf of the 175,000 men and women from 40 countries who make The Walt Disney Company what it is today.

Thank you.
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