Nov 9, 2016

What We Need Now

These are the words that I shared with my team earlier this morning.

From: Daniel Lubetzky
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2016 4:21 AM
To: KINDTeam
Subject: what we need now

Dear Team,

This seemingly endless election season, culminating over the last several hours, has been a painful journey of division, vitriol and alienation for our country. It ends with America’s citizens torn further apart than any time I can remember.

Many of us are deeply shaken about the fate of our nation and our world. Global markets are signaling concern as we enter unchartered territory. There is a sense that the world’s greatest democracy is more fragile than we realized and cannot be taken for granted.

And I am asking myself how will I explain all of this to my children when they wake up in a few hours.

Finding common ground in the political space has been so challenging. Our government representatives (and the machinery that amplifies their messages) have not made it easy.

We have to step back and collectively reflect on how to protect and elevate the values we share and that have truly made America great – respect for one another, kindness, empathy, humility, warmth, the conviction that we can make a positive difference for our children and for each other, to lead our lives with purpose, to lead our communities with resilience and determination, to forge an inclusive society that prizes merit and hard work, and to contribute towards making the world we live in both kinder and stronger.

I’ve highlighted in the past that empathy and kindness are often confused with weakness. That, actually, it takes strength to be kind, particularly when we feel most vulnerable. That empathizing with “the other” requires enormous amounts of self-confidence, to feel comfortable putting yourself in the shoes of someone that you deeply disagree with. How trying has it been for many of us over the last year to understand “the other side.”

Along the night and before the election results became clear I was reflecting that, regardless of the outcome, roughly half the voters staked diametrically opposing positions.  The toxic discourse made the rival platforms feel epically distant, almost as if the other side was morally repugnant. I wonder how will we get these two halves to find common ground when the distances that have been created between them are so vast. I find great solace knowing that people I greatly admire, including team leaders at KIND, and family members I love, disagreed with my political choice, and it never stood in the way of our relation. No matter how political campaigns try to program us (with billions upon billions of negative messages), we must find a way to respect one another and to appreciate our differences.

So how will I explain the results of this election to my children? I will explain that life doesn’t always serve up the path you wanted. But, always, you are served with a choice: do I retrench or do I rise up? Do I abandon hope or do I envision a way to make things better and act upon it? Do I demonize or humanize?

Now, more than ever, let’s show the strength within us to build common ground, not just to demand from our elected representatives that they rise above our differences and unite us, but to lead by example, with courage and conviction and without losing that sense of purpose, that commitment to excellence and to one another.

Time to unite.

Daniel Lubetzky
Founder & CEO

 

LinkedIn Article Published November 9, 2016

Empathy          KIND          Leadership

More from Daniel

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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