Category: Civil Society

2022 High Point University Commencement Address

Today, I want to talk about a light and fluffy subject: your generation’s role in steering humanity in the right direction. No pressure, Dalton. 

But in all seriousness, Dalton, I love what you shared about “leaving everywhere you go better than you found it…and finding ways to give grace and inspiration to the people around you.”  

I want to talk today about HOW to do that as you are all simultaneously challenged and blessed with graduating as our world is re-entering a stage of dramatic consequence. 

The ship of humanity is moving in the wrong direction, and it will be upon all of you to steer it back on track. 

To illustrate this point, I want to compare the circumstances when my father’s generation came of age, to those when my generation and your generation graduated from college. 

My father was fifteen-and-a-half when he was liberated from the Dachau concentration camp by American soldiers. He was barely alive.  He never got to go to school past third grade, let alone college. Several of your grandparents were around your age when they were sent to free Europe from tyranny and darkness. 

By contrast, when I was fifteen years-old, my family immigrated to America from Mexico. I was able to attend college during a period when passionate but cordial debate was the norm. I remember observing political leaders vehemently disagree on a particular topic, while maintaining a friendship rooted in respect. Our world was far from perfect – but the arc of human progress trended in an upward direction. Freedom, open markets, human rights, civility, and the quest for knowledge were all advancing.  

It seemed almost too good to be true.  In fact, it was so good that we began to lose sight that Our Great American Experiment isn’t so much a fixed state of affairs as it is a purposeful daily affirmation – something that we opt into, live out, and vote for not once every four years, but every single day – through how we engage with one another. 

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Understanding the Tricky Balance When Launching Social Startups

At a time when our world is facing unprecedented challenges, from climate change to political polarization to a global pandemic, entrepreneurs and nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders cannot afford to operate in silos. Entrepreneurs possess resourcefulness, creativity, and initiative; heads of nonprofit organizations are equipped with depth of knowledge, purpose, and the patient determination that comes with that purpose. Together, these partners can turbocharge impact if they properly calibrate their respective contributions to create new social enterprises.

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Both Sides Are Minimizing Violence. Americans Must Fight for Our Nation

Shocking news emerged this week from the bipartisan committee investigating the January 6 attack: On that dark day, Fox News hosts and former-President Donald Trump’s son sent text messages begging for Trump to address the nation and stop the violent riot. Yet many Republicans continue to downplay the insurrection that dangerously undermined electoral integrity and the rule of law and threatened our democracy.

But minimizing violence isn’t only happening on the Republican side. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, District Attorneys promoting an anti-police narrative and lax crime-fighting policies have contributed to an alarming rise in homicides and spiraling crime rates. Yet despite the skyrocketing crime in liberal bastions, many of us have family and friends living in these cities who refuse to accept that controversial policies to suspend prosecution for many crimes may have played a role in the violent wave.

There is no comparing an attempted insurrection with day to day crime; one is significantly worse, and a much bigger threat to our democracy. But both sides are suffering from a partisan blindness that has led to minimizing any violence that appears to implicate their leaders. And it presents a huge threat to our country.

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Breaking society’s bad habits Starts With Us

Decades ago, hatred began to build in online chat rooms, where people (protected by the anonymity of their computer screens) could post judgmental vitriol with little accountability. We thought these ugly conversations would stay contained to small virtual spaces; but when millions of people adopt the same bad habits, those behaviors add up to define who we are. Hatred begets hatred and nasty words based on nastier (and often false) sentiments, have since spread through social media – and bubbled over into the offline world, too.

Today, we seem quicker than ever to judge one another, and slower than ever to forgive. We often assume negative intent instead of positive, and point our fingers before we’ve taken the time to explore the nuances of a situation. More and more, we’ve replaced trust in one another with chronic skepticism and defensiveness. We have become accustomed to pitting “us” against “them,” and dividing the world – and its complex issues – into two incompatible halves.

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There’s only one way to stop violent extremists, as seen in CNN

(CNN) Extremism has a knack for metastasizing and coming back to wreak havoc upon its hosts. Once a cohort or society builds a hateful mindset, the hatred takes on a life of its own. Extremist ideology not only hurts a society’s enemies, but also eventually attacks from within and harms the society from which it originated. I first started observing this phenomenon abroad — and it saddens but does not surprise me that we are starting to see it haunt American democracy too.

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Continuing KIND’s efforts to promote a kinder, more equitable world

Even before COVID, our social fabric was beginning to fray. Over the course of years, long-standing inequalities and systemic racism have become starkly exposed and greatly exacerbated as division and polarization among Americans grows. Now, more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed and over 350,000 people have lost their lives to COVID. People of Color have been disproportionately affected due to inequalities rampant across our healthcare system, economy, and society.

Overcoming these challenges will require all of us to deepen our commitment to standing up against injustice while also working to rebuild trust and empathy across our communities. We must continue to dig deep to model the values we want to see in our society by taking stock of our own actions, big or small, each day. As a global brand and movement, KIND has an even greater opportunity and responsibility to make an impact…

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Thank you for your support in 2020

KIND Friends,

2020 has been a deeply challenging year for our country. At KIND and The KIND Foundation, we have worked hard to support one another and our communities with initiatives such as the Frontline Impact Project, which is mobilizing companies to donate resources to over a million frontline heroes including healthcare workers battling COVID and firefighters responding to our nation’s wildfires. At the same time, we have sought to keep you nourished throughout this trying time by upholding our KIND Promise to create delicious and healthy foods that lead with wholesome, nutritious ingredients.

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Two Giants Have Passed, Their Lessons Stay with Me

My father’s generation is exceptional in many ways. They just don’t make them like they used to. Since my Dad’s passing in 2003, I have grown so much closer to a couple dozen people in my Dad’s age group whom I feel so blessed to count among my friends and mentors. They have all made an important impact on society while retaining their down-to-earth nature, kindness and humility. I wish my Dad could be here to meet them. Our society would be so much better off were we to draw more from their wisdom and values.

Two giants cut from the same cloth were recently lost to our world in close succession.  These men are Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Sir James Wolfensohn, whose impact on me I’d like to commemorate with these reflections.

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Protecting our Democracy

I believe that the overwhelming majority of people are moderates who may not always recognize our duty to stand up and be counted. But in moments like this, we must defend our Constitutional norms and uphold American trust in our democracy. This piece is based off of an email I felt compelled to send to Senate Majority Leader Shirkey and House Speaker Chatfield this afternoon.

Dear Michigan Senate Majority Leader Shirkey and House Speaker Chatfield,

We have never met, but I hope to meet you one of these days and to be able to express my deep gratitude for your role in safeguarding our democracy. You have been thrust into a historic moment. How you act today will determine a lot about our nation’s future, the integrity of American elections, and the character of the Republican Party.

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The Moment We’re In Calls for Kindness

This is an email I sent to the KIND team this morning, encouraging empathy and bridge-building during a time of deep division within our country.

KIND Team,

This past weekend, Americans elected Joe Biden the 46th U.S. President. I have long felt that President-elect Biden’s campaign messages echo KIND’s ethos and I am encouraged that this administration will champion the values that we at KIND, regardless of political party, hold dear.

I realize that this news does not hit everyone the same way. As I have said before, everyone has a home here at KIND. We must continue to model empathy and respectful listening and discourse, not only internally at KIND but also externally in our communities.

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Moderates, this election is up to us

Moderates like me do not conform to the prevailing stereotypes of Republican or Democrat, which makes us a frustrating yet important group to pundits come Election Day. We like to think for ourselves and question what we hear, which means we’re often unswayed by partisan rhetoric. Perhaps most unnerving for politicians is that we choose values over political dogma and reserve the right to change our minds. This makes our actions challenging to control or predict, despite the great consequence of our votes.

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New Peace by Ari Shavit, from Yedioth Ahronoth

The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace shared this article by Ari Shavit, originally published in Yedioth Ahronoth, in its September 15th Israel and Middle East Newsletter. I am posting the article here as a solid piece explaining the significance of the recent peace agreements in the Middle East. It may be a tinge too optimistic and overconfident, but I’ll take it!

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KIND’s Decision to #StopHateforProfit

We’ve decided today that KIND – in the United States and across the 32 countries where we now operate – will vote with our advertising dollars in favor of truth, fairness, civility, and kindness. Most immediately, KIND is joining the Stop Hate for Profit initiative started by Color of Change, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL, whose Board I serve on), and others. We will pause our Facebook and Instagram advertising across all product lines starting July 1st through the close of the month.

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