Former President Barack Obama told attendees of the Obama Foundation Summit on Monday that with cooperation, people can remake the world—which “badly needs remaking.”
“The single most important thing we have to invest in is…people,” said Obama when speaking about combating climate change, according to NBC News. “We have got to get people to figure out how they work together in a cooperative, thoughtful, constructive way.”
The former president said the United States has failed to make progress on many issues “because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues.”
While his last point resulted in laughter, Obama’s statement carries weight. Despite what some may believe, racism still exists in the United States, and the numbers point to a growing problem: there were over 7,000 hate crimes last year, an increase of 17% from the year before.
Obama encouraged those at the Chicago summit to take action against injustices, but realize that society will always be slow to change.
“You should be extraordinarily impatient about the injustices and nonsense and foolishness you see around you and you should be finding opportunities at every juncture to challenge those things,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “At the same time, you have to keep in your mind: Societies are these complex, organic things that you don’t turn [like] switches. They evolve. They shift. They change.”
In conversation with author Dave Eggers, Obama also reflected on his time as a community organizer in Chicago, his experiences as a politician, and the history of civil rights in the United States.