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Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in producer Tom Desanto’s film X-Men (Photo: Attila Dory)
Ideas that can change the world—and lives—may start small or start big, but all share the same source: a motivated person who dares to ask, “Why not?" The first in a series of programs spotlighting individuals who asked that question and acted on it brings together a group of professionals who all actively pursue the issue of social justice within their areas of expertise.
Tom DeSanto, the producer of blockbuster films including X-Men and Transformers saw the films as a way to explore how social groups can—or cannot—be assimilated; Kaj Larsen, is an investigative reporter and past Navy Seal who looks into numerous issues related to how people treat each other—from warfare to prisons, and especially to how we help our veterans when they return. Journalist Roxana Saberi, illegally imprisoned in Iran in 2009, talks about Iran's justice system and issues of freedom and human rights.
These individuals use their platforms to highlight issues as diverse as xenophobia, racism, bigotry, sexism, the right to die with dignity, and other social issues which then allows further discussions on these topics. Some have lived with injustice, some report on it or satirize the issues to make them more palatable but all stress that how we treat others in society has an impact on us all, and sometimes the message is best understood when part of a larger story.
The moderator is Jon Levy, a behavioral scientist and founder of the Influencers, a topic-driven salon in New York City built on the premise of gathering a group of “givers”—how Levy describes people who add value to the world without expecting anything in return—who then discuss areas of interest.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)