Joshua DuBois, a member of the Obama administration, encouraged Belmont students to use social networking as a link between the government and the grassroots” in a convocation speech recently.
“The problems we’re facing are big enough to accommodate anybody who wants to help us solve them,” DuBois said. “We need all hands on deck.”
He called churches the real change agents but recognized the difficulty of bringing government and religion together. Over the course of human history, we’ve seen religion and politics clash and collide in a way that has hurt humanity instead of helped it.
“It’s given people a healthy skepticism about combining the two,” DuBois said.
DuBois was appointed director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships by President Obama to fix this problem. As a 27-year-old who called himself a political nerd, he wants to bring innovative solutions to old problems. The administration’s plan is based on key principles DuBois called the four P’s.
- Partnership, eliminating competition and opening communication between secular and religious organizations
- Perspective, recognizing the nonfinancial ways government can help grassroots causes
- Philadelphia, remembering the constitutional right to separation of church and state
- Facebook profiles
Drawing curious laughs from the audience on the last principle, DuBois quickly explained himself. “I know it’s a little bit of a stretch in terms of the four Ps, but I was going to do Facebook with a ‘Ph,’ so it could have been worse,” he joked.
Assuming 75 percent of Belmont students have an average of 300 Facebook friends, the campus connects with more than 1.2 million people on a daily basis, said DuBois.
Unlike other politicians, DuBois is “one of the few who understands Facebook and sees the positive sides of it,” according to Henna Ali, a freshman who attended the speech.
We’ve got some real challenges that we’re facing across the globe, and young people can bring a lot of resources to bear on those challenges. President Obama believes that young folks have a lot of potential in terms of connecting with each other, supporting particular causes, serving their community, and the earlier we can start, the better, DuBois said.
DuBois knows the power of being politically active at a young age. As a freshman at Boston University, he received national media attention when he protested the killing of an unarmed immigrant by the New York City police.
Few people are willing to take such bold action, but “everybody can do something,” DuBois said.
He urged members of what he called the Facebook profile generation to use those tools for a broader purpose, citing Belmont Facebook groups already dedicated to mission trips, United for Change and the Tennessee Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Whether students use Facebook to launch a political campaign or fight malaria in Africa, this generation has the potential to solve problems “in a way this world has never seen before,” said DuBois. “And when you make that decision to use your networks and your innovation and your power to change the world, we’re going to be there right with you.
To contact the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood partnerships, e-mail email@example.com.