Cory Booker focused on a message that he even admitted might be surprising to some during his keynote address at this year's South by Southwest festival. The U.S. Senator from New Jersey focused on the power of love during his speech Friday and its ability to help us move forward as a country.
"This is a problematic use of words when Americans appeal to this ideal that we should be a nation of tolerance," he said. "I think that's really problematic that this is the aspirational ideal of our society because it is a rejection of that larger goal that we have, that more difficult goal, which is to be a nation of love. I tolerate a cold. That's not what we were called to do, to tolerate each other. We were called to love each other."
Booker also expressed his fear that technology is creating online bubbles that are making it easier to dismiss those who are different from us, whether that be in politics, experience or beliefs.
"While I am a lover of technology and innovation, I am not a lover of the separations that are becoming easier or more convenient," he said. "Not seeing each other creates a very dangerous reality."
At a time when politics has divided much of our country, Booker argued that now, more than ever, is the time to reach across that separation and try to understand each other.
"We've written into our founding document some of the highest ideals of life, but they mean nothing; the way they live is through people who embody that spirit," he said. "We must give a sacred effort to cut through the divisiveness, to show a courageous empathy, to leave the geographic ideal of neighborliness and be there for our neighbor that might exist on Martin Luther King boulevard, or on a Native American reservation or in a poor Appalachian town. They are Americans. And we are Americans. And we must see each other. Because that is the beginning, the necessary ingredient, to the greatest force in our country right now, our only salvation, and that is to love one another."
This is not the first time the senator spoke at the film, interactive media and music festival in Austin, Texas. In 2013, when he was mayor of Newark, New Jersey, his keynote address earned him SXSW's "Speaker of the Year" award.