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History of Esperanza Symposiums

2017 Seminar

Rand Morimoto, Ph.D.

Rand Morimoto, Ph.D., is known as a pioneer in architecting and implementing technologies that help organizations improve business efficiencies through their use of technologies that create a competitive advantage in their operations. Dr.Morimoto has written over 30 international bestselling books on topics ranging from internet security to electronic messaging to network communications with recent topics on MIcrosoft Windows, Azure Cloud Computing, Electronically Stored Information Governance, and Cyber-security.

In the past year, Dr.Morimoto has spoken at over 50 conferences and conventions around the world and on a day-to-day basis runs a 65-person technology consulting firm (Convergent Computing, San Francisco Bay Area) he founded over 30 years ago that provides technology strategy consulting and implementation services to some of the largest corporations and government agencies in the world. Dr.Morimoto served as a Y2K advisor to President Clinton, cyber-security advisor to President Bush, and serves on the Board for the NASA and Smithsonian Institute affiliate Chabot Space and Science Center, is a Trustee on the Governing Board for St.Mary’s College, and is an advisor to the Fulbright Center in Washington DC.

Music: Rivka performed songs in Ladino, the Spanish spoken by the Jews expelled from Spain in 1541

Malcom Feeley, Ph.D.

Crime in the US
Professor Feeley is a internationally recognized expert on criminal justice. He holds the Claire Sanders Clements Dean’s Chair in Law (Boalt Hall), University of California at Berkeley. His publications have served to form the basis for public policy on criminal justice not only in the US but in numerous other countries. He has taught in Austraila, UK, Israel, China, and countries in Europe and Latin America.
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2016 Seminar

A book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Dr. Steven Pinker at Harvard served as the basis of the 2016 seminar. Dr. Pinker had researched the history of Conflict and concluded that we are living in a time where there is least amount conflict in any time in history. His thesis is we need to see the bigger picture on the evolution of human history and observe the patterns of human interaction that are creating foundations of a more peaceful world.

Addressing the themes of the book and adding his own unique experiences to the topic was Ambassador James Michel (Retired). Ambassador Michel had served in the State department under George Schultz, been an Ambassador to Guatemala, Acting Director USAID on two occasions during transitions of government and an Ambassador to the OECD in Paris representing the US government. He is known as being the father of the rule of law effort on behalf of the State Department.

Ambassador Michel reviewed the evolution and development of international institutions since the Second World War. He traced these developments and demonstrated that their purpose of creating constructive ways for nation states to engage with each other to resolve conflicts had in fact contributed to more peaceful world. Notwithstanding the penchant of the 24 hour news cycle that hypes the news with conflict creating an image quite to the contrary that, indeed we live in a more peaceful world.

Dr. Robert Henderson spoke on the same theme based on the experiences within the U.S. He cited the distances we have come a society in race relations from our beginnings where there was no mention of slaves in our founding documents. He traced the increasing awareness of need to build bridges of understanding, legal recognition of equal rights and ultimately full integration of the races.

William Davis made a presentation on the developments in the Middle East. He covered all the countries in the region and how the Arab Spring began. He projected the likely scenarios that would unfold in the region. In the case of Israel and Palestine, he drew attention to the historic divisions on the future of Israel which have been the source of internal conflict since the founding of the State. Davis Ben Gurion, the First President of Israel, had a vision of integration with the resident Arab community. This view conflicted with the Jabotinsky view that all of historic Israel should be Israel and no Arab state should be formed. The current Prime Minister of Israel is from the later school of thought, thus he indicated there is little to no likelihood of any peace in the near term.

While some of the criticism of the Pinker book has centered on the accuracy of the historical figures cited in the text, nonetheless we can see ever more integrated world where finding areas of common ground are being pursued every day. No doubt there will be setbacks in this march towards a world where we increasingly see the world as one human family and less as a collection of tribes. This process of moving to recognize a greater identity than merely a tribal one has been a part of human evolution.

2015 Seminar

The 2015 Seminar begin with a focus on ISIS, the terrorist organization that had emerged in the political vacuum in Iraq and Syria. The ISIS phenomenon had become the challenging topic of the day. We were fortunate to obtain the services of Dr. Will McCants from Brookings Institute who just completed a book on ISIS to come and make a presentation. Dr. McCants reviewed the history of the conflicts in Syria and consequences of the internal conflicts within the Iraqi government that created political vacuums which ISIS filled. He also discussed some of the critical errors made by the U.S government after the invasion of Iraq, such as discharging the Iraqi army leadership many of whom immediately joined ISIS.

Dr. McCants discussed the attraction of ISIS to especially young Moslems in diverse countries where there is little or no hope for a promising future. For those young Moslems living in Western countries who are feeling estranged from materialism and have not become integrated into their society, the allure of some historical ideal such as establishing a Caliphate was a real attraction.

Dr. McCants forecasted that this movement was not sustainable and would ultimately lose its attraction to young people seeking alternatives to their lives. He conjectured the imminent military action against ISIS would prove to break its back.

Professor Paula Henderson, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, presented her art and how she saw art and the community. Through a series of stunning artistic portrayals, she illustrated her art and how it reflected the social development in the community. Ranging from her widely recognized portrayal of basketball in the inner city which hangs in the Headquarters of the NBA, to community networks she displayed the connectivity of everyone and everything in modern life. This presentation challenges the nihilistic views of personal isolation and separation so frequently displayed in art.

Dr. William Smith, Director and Founder of the National Center on Race Amity at Wheelock College in Boston made a presentation on the “Other Tradition” in race relations. Dr. Smith begin by tracing the long history of people of different races working together for the common good even during times of extreme turmoil between the races. He cited this tradition as being lost in the discourse that exclusively focuses on racism. He made the point that the path to bridging the gap between the races would be found in finding those examples of where people are already living, working and collaborating together across racial lines. He said by focusing on the positive patterns of human interaction, we would find new paths to establishing a true sense of race unity.

Beginning in 2014 Esperanza Foundation sponsored symposiums on timely topics to inform the public and participants in the High Sierra Spring Golf Classic. The principle underlying the seminars is the independent investigation of the truth. Esperanza Foundation does not advocate positions - rather we seek to identify recognized experts in fields of interest and invite them to make presentations to our audiences. Believing an informed public is critical to the wellbeing of the democracy.

We are finding it increasingly difficult for the public to find sources of information that are independent from an advocacy position. The news media and the internet seem to be dominated by groups seeking to convince the public of an ideological position on every topic. While we don’t pretend to be without our own values and concerns, we strive to identify topics and presenters to challenge popular assumptions, inform on background matters and or explore topics of high national interest.

2014 Seminar

In 2014 we could see the pending movements by Russia in Ukraine and Crimea would constitute a new challenge to peace in that part of the world. Ukraine’s long and intertwined history with Mother Russia was being challenged by the constant intervention by pro-Western democracy movements which threatened the hegemony of Moscow. This region’s complex history was not known to many of our audience. We invited the Distinguished Scholar on Russian History from Yale, Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh to talk on the History of the Ukraine.

Dr. Kazemzadeh traced the origins of the peoples of the steppe and the evolution of the identity of the peoples in that region that ultimately became known as Ukraine. The Ukrainian population consists of a number distinct groups who had inhabited that large region in Central Asia for millennium. As their separate identity emerged as a nation, so did the imposition of will from the Tsars. This tension of Moscow domination exists till today. During his remarks Dr Kazamzadeh revealed that on his mother’s side, his grandfather had been a general in the Cossack army. He was born in Moscow where his father was diplomat in the Iranian Embassy and his mother was Russian. Throughout his presentation he helped the audience understand the historical basis for hostilities between Russia and Ukraine and he projected out several scenarios that might occur in the near future. President Putin’s interest in reconstituting the Soviet Empire will be dominating political force for the foreseeable future and it will impact all the former Soviet Republics seeking to break away from the domination of Russia and to align with the Western Europe and the U.S.

In 2014 health care legislation (Affordable Care Act/ACA) also known as Obamacare had recently been passed by Congress and the amount of confusion, hysteria and misrepresentations about the law was rampant. The Esperanza Foundation sought to provide some perspective on the law regarding its intent, challenges in the law, and how it might impact the public. We asked Dr. Gordon Hunt, the Chief Medical Officer at Sutter Health, one of the largest health providers in California, Mary Antoine, a former nurse lawyer specializing in health care at Nossman law firm in Sacramento and Tom Hayes, the Director of the Eastern Plumas Hospital in Portola to make a presentation on the new law.

The panel reviewed origins and intent of the law. Dr. Hunt observed that he saw many flaws in the design of the legislation especially in areas where too much deference had been given to the insurance and pharmaceutical industry. The compensation methodology for services was an area of concern for Tom Hayes especially as it related to a small rural hospital such as Eastern Plumas. Mary Antoine cited numerous legal and organizational challenges that would face hospitals medial service providers.

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