Ethan Hawke on why 'dialogue about inclusion is extremely important right now'

Ethan Hawke is on a mission to help fix one of the issues facing our everyday lives, and he's partnering with the YMCA to make it happen.

"One of the problems with the way that we live now is that we’re all isolated into our own little microcosms," he explained to AOL Entertainment recently over the phone. "The Y is this free space, though, where everybody is invited and you have a meeting ground with everyone who wants it. We’re all trying to take care of ourselves, and we want the same opportunities for our children."

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Hawke grew up going to camp at his local Y in Austin, Texas. His parents were college students when he was born and sought out the organization to assist them with childcare. When he eventually moved to New York City, Hawke sought refuge at a Brooklyn Y location where he would play basketball. Nowadays, his relationship with the not-for-profit has come full circle, as it's his children who like to spend their time there, too.

The 46-year-old calls the YMCA "one of the pillars of our community that a lot of people take for granted" and don't give it enough credit for the way in which it brings people of different backgrounds together in a safe place.

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Ethan Hawke out and about
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Ethan Hawke out and about

Ethan Hawke partakes in the YMCA's #SelfieWithSomeoneNew campaign.

(Credit: Invision for YMCA)

VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Ethan Hawke walks the red carpet ahead of the 'First Reformed' screening during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on August 31, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Ethan Hawke attends the First Reformed party during the 74th Venice Film Festival at San Clemente Palace Hotel on August 31, 2017 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Mark Milan/Getty Images)
Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried attend the 'First Reformed' red carpet during the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, on August 31, 2017. (Photo by Matteo Chinellato/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Actor Ethan Hawke and actress Amanda Seyfried attend the photocall of the movie 'First Reformed' presented in competition 'Venezia 74' at the 74th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2017 at Venice Lido. / AFP PHOTO / Tiziana FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 05: Director Aisling Walsh and Ethan Hawke attend a screening of 'Maudie' at The Lighthouse Cinema on August 5, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Phillip Massey/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA Lara Spencer interviews Ethan Hawke on 'Good Morning America,' Thursday, June 22, 2017 airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) ETHAN HAWKE, LARA SPENCER
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Ethan Hawke seen at the ABC studio for GMA on June 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Actor Ethan Hawke visits at SiriusXM Studios on June 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Actor Ethan Hawke attends Build to discuss 'Maudie' at Build Studio on June 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06: Actors Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke attend the 'Maudie' New York screening at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Ryan Hawke and husband Ethan Hawke pose at the Midnight Matinee (12am performance) of the hit play 'A Dolls House, Part 2'' on Broadway at The Golden Theatre on May 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 08: Actor Ethan Hawke and actress Kari Matchett arrive at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival tribute to Ethan Hawke at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on April 8, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: Actor Ethan Hawke attends 'The Hairy Ape's' Opening Night Party at the Park Avenue Armory on March 30, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Ethan Hawke attends the 'Latin History For Morons' Opening Night Celebration at The Public Theater on March 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Ethan Hawke and Levon Thurman-Hawke attend New York Knicks Vs. Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on March 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01: (L-R) Actors Billy Crudup, Josh Hamilton and Ethan Hawke attend 'All The Fine Boys' Opening Night on March 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Ethan Hawke attends the 26th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall St on November 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rebecca Smeyne/Getty Images)

"You meet people from all walks of life, and it’s the one of the places that all of the people in your neighborhood would go to," he continued.

It's not lost on Hawke that his work with the YMCA's "For a better us." campaign to promote togetherness and strengthening community bonds is coming at a time when there are so many divisive, hate-filled messages affecting our communities, and it's exactly that that makes his partnership so necessary.

"This kind of dialogue about inclusion is extremely important right now," Hawke told us. "The internet and the news and the papers are all full of so many stories about how we all hate each other and how the country is at odds with itself. There’s so much language being thrown around that’s incredibly divisive and arbitrary."

For a lot of communities, though, seeking out their local Y is a way to suppress that language and interact with supportive, engaging people.

"The YMCA is a really obvious example of how easy it is for communities to be integrated, if there’s a place to do that," he said.

In an effort to reach more young people, part of the "For a better us." campaign involves taking a #SelfieWithSomeoneNew, which is exactly what it sounds like. Finding common ground with others, seeking out unlikely allies and building bridges between communities are all things that Hawke and the YMCA are hoping to encourage youths to do.

"The selfie is a very contemporary idea, but to try to use that not to isolate yourself but to give yourself an excuse to meet someone now is amazing," the actor said. "It symbolizes what the Y is -- simply a meeting ground."

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