Meeting in a Common Room: Queen Rania of Jordan calls for spirit of concern in public discourse

May 4, 2007
Robert O'Neill

Rather than stay hunkered down in their own separate corners, East and West must strive to appreciate their common humanity, Her Majesty Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan said Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Forum.

Her talk, “How East and West Can Find Common Ground in Today’s Strained Political Climate,” was co-sponsored by the Institute of Politics and Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board.

Queen Rania called for a greater spirit of concern in public discourse.
“Leadership cannot come just from the head, it must come from the heart as well,” she said.

“Because every policy great or small has a person at the end of it, not just an anonymous stranger but somebody’s mother or best friend or son – someone who has the same rights and dignity and worth as you and me.”

She said that the world’s biggest problems are sometimes approached solely with “technocratic tools … far above the ground from where people actually live.”

“As a result there is sometimes something missing in our global discourse: the moral language of the conscience, the emotional conversation of the heart.,” she said.

Queen Rania said that she remained hopeful despite the obvious signs of a disturbing gap between East and West.

“Because our world house has a common room as well,” she said. “It is a room where color, race and creed do not get in the way. Not because those things don’t exist, but because they are not important. What’s important in the common room are the values that we share. The basic belief that each of us is worthy of respect. In the common room we can strive to understand one another’s perspective, to ask and to listen, to share and to trust, to assume the best from one another, not the worst.”

To watch a video of the event, visit the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum archive.

Photo: Mike Casey

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Queen Rania audience image

Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan was greeted by a standing ovation at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on May 3.