Matthew Modine

My 5 Minutes with the President

Matthew Modine is an award-winning actor, director and producer. He received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his television work in “What the Deaf Man Heard” and the Emmy-winning “And the Band Played On.” He is also know for his roles in films, including “Birdy,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “Any Given Sunday,” as well as his work on Broadway, most recently in “The Miracle Worker.” Modine also has directed numerous short films. An avid environmental advocate and cyclist, Modine founded Bicycle for a Day to empower people to make measurable, tangible differences in our community, environment and personal health.

ROBIN BRONK: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?
MATTHEW MODINE: Please help Americans to understand that there is no magical placed called “away.” When we throw something away, it doesn’t disappear. It goes someplace. Every thing we put down the drain, the toilet, in the trash, everything goes someplace. There is no magical “away” place. There is no place far, far away that we can leave this world and escape to. There is only this earth, and we’d better stop fighting and take care of here. Mr. President, if you can make Americans conscious of this, I believe it will change their consumer habits and we will become less wasteful and more peaceful.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?
MM: What do you want your legacy to be, and what kind of world would you want your children and their children to grow up in?

RB: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?
MM: America need to reduce its consumption of goods and resources. We live in a consumer-based economy and our nation, and the world, cannot support an economy based on its consumption. Our world’s natural resources are finite, not infinite, and cannot support the rate in which human beings consume. We must evolve and build an economy that supports itself through sustainability. We must evolve into a society that values character, rather than what some character owns.

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?
MM: Everything is political. My typing this is political. The people that agree or disagree and criticize what I have typed are being political. You have to take sides and make a stance for what you believe to be true. You have to be prepared to defend your ideals and, if you’re a tiny bit intelligent, listen to the views of those you oppose, and be willing to find faults in your own arguments. If you can do this, you can sometimes avoid foolish conflict and hopefully move toward peaceful solutions that all mankind can benefit from.

Bronk is a seasoned Capitol Hill strategist and advocate. She started her career at The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group for the arts and entertainment industry, in July 1998. During her tenure as CEO, Bronk has taken The Creative Coalition from a New York-based entity to a national organization. www.thecreativecoalition.org