Last December, I posted a letter here driven by my heart. Not by my mind. It wasn’t about business. It was about humans. American humans, to be exact. While I said everything I could to articulate that this was not a political post it did not matter at the end. Some still perceived it as political. They were wrong. To pledge my allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and then to invite all to exercise that is not political. It is American. I posted that article so I could go to sleep on the night of December 16th knowing I did not look the other way while something atrocious was taking place on my watch. Not because I had an ulterior agenda. I didn’t do it to expose my brand. I did it to expose our hearts. I could not have cared less whether it received 1 view or 1 million views. I wanted to remind myself that the privilege of being an American Citizen is not a spectator sport and should never be taken for granted. Between LinkedIn and other platforms where I posted this letter, I received, to my amazement, over half million views, over 80 thousand likes and nearly 10 thousand comments. Over 90 percent of the comments were supportive and positive. These supportive comments came from moms, dads, retirees, teachers, law enforcement members, executives, college professors, army generals, media professionals, health care workers, government officials, republicans, democrats and independents. They came from a truck driver in Arkansas and an unemployed father of three in Detroit. They came from a cop in San Diego and a CEO in New York. They came from blacks, whites, jews, muslims, the old, the young and the frustrated all of whom unanimously said; “This is exactly how we feel.” They came from Americans who love America. They came from foreigners across the globe who also love America. They came from people who know all too well America is much more than a country. It is a beacon of light. Many of these comments brought tears to my eyes as they were written with love, passion and hope celebrating the discovery of another voice who felt exactly as they did. I felt sad for those who were angry with me because they couldn’t hear me. Nevertheless, I celebrated their privilege, as I celebrate mine, to exercise our precious First Amendment. I am grateful for the opportunity to have interacted with many of you over this issue. Because, it helped me better understand how we all love America. Of course, if you love something you not only set it free but you also respect it, embrace it, not judge it, not abuse it, forgive it and protect it at all cost.
This has been a fascinating learning experience for me. I made about 7 thousand new friends. By sharing this post-analysis, I feel, I am personally closing the circle on this issue albeit the issue itself may never be put the rest. For all the people who viewed my December 16th article, commented on it, liked or disliked it here are 5 things I learned from this experience:
1-) Things are not nearly as bad as we are forced to believe. I have nearly 10 thousand comments to prove that decency, compassion, common sense are alive and well in America as they are in the world. The challenge is to see that fact through the thick fog of ignorance. Most decent people will just shake their head and drive on when cutoff by an obnoxious driver instead of laying on their horn and flipping the birdie. Most compassionate people will try to understand first before judging. Most with common sense will intuitively know the difference between right and wrong. So, what I have learned from all the commentary is if you constantly choose to hang by the dumpster you will think the world stinks. The dumpster is the media. The dumpster is on the air, in print and online. The dumpster is that neighbor, co-worker, family member, that bully who is always negative convincing you the sky is going to fall any moment now and unfriends you on FB if you do not agree. The dumpster is the lack of emotional discipline causing us to react like a vicious dog barking back when confronted. The dumpster is where a hungry pack of wolves roam waiting for the next sensational viral video to be tossed at them like raw meat so they can get their fix of judge and devour. I say, dump the dumpster. Drive away. See the world the way it truly is. A beautiful planet where the majority of the humans are good. Watch this to help you change your perspective. I am not saying ignore the reality and pretend the dumpster doesn’t exist. Just stop living next to it.
2-) The ignorant is always louder than the civilized. This is a conundrum for many. Because, that loudness creates a false sense that the civilized is the minority. Not so. For example, of the 9861 comments only about 79 were harsh. Of that 79 only 48 said LinkedIn was not the right place for this. Of that 48 only 22 had a nasty tone. Against that simple math, it was easy for me to get caught up in the perception the 22 loud-mouths created. But, that was false. The only truth I needed to embrace was 9782 people expressed their opinions eloquently and quietly.
My last two cents regarding LinkedIn being the right or wrong platform? True American entrepreneurship is built on moral values and gratitude for the freedom we are given to thrive in a healthy capitalism. If you think this topic is wrong for LinkedIn you are wrong for American business.
3-) Most people hear only what they want to. It was, frankly, bewildering to read some of the comments where only a component of the article was extracted and commented on, often inaccurately and off target. So, if a man is pre-convinced that the sky is blue and I present him with the facts that the actual color of the sky is, well, colorless (mostly nitrogen and oxygen) there is nothing in the world I can say or do that will convince him otherwise. Because, he lacks one of the most pivotal ingredients that help advance the civilization; an open mind. So, while many of the positive comments were flattering, a big chunk only read what they wanted to. For them the sky will always be blue.
4-) Inspiration does not always come with education. Many comments from educators and parents alike reflected the need for my article to be distributed in classrooms, like this one:
This should be required reading in colleges, high, middle and elementary schools. It should also be (required) reading in business meetings. We, as a nation, need to read, heed, and heal.
Seeing this comment echoed multiple times was humbling at an extraordinary level. Because, I am not an intellect by any means. I am not a scholar. I am not a well-educated person. In fact, I am a high school dropout. (That’s why I built a successful business in the advertising industry; one of the few industries where underachievers like me can do great. 🙂 This is not a humble-brag. It is a reminder that inspiration does not always come with education. Passion is more critical to success than a diploma. If you have both, you can truly make magic. But, if you have just the passion and your heart is overwhelmed with conviction for a good cause get out and express it. As I have learned quickly from this experience, academics are optional. Passion is mandatory. Speaking up is everything!
5-) It is not US against THEM. It US against US. Ironically, as I post this final note on this topic a new TED Talk was just released. There is nothing I can say more poignant and more true than what you will hear in this video. Please watch it. Share it with your children. Share it with somebody who is angry at everything. Because, the 5th lesson I learned from this experience is when it comes to being an American there is no them and us. There is just us. United we stand. Divided we fall. Period!
I glance again at one of the comments to my December 16th article which reads: “I am better for reading and understanding this.” So am I, sir, for reading all the priceless wisdom from my fellow Americans, whether they agree or disagree, I am better off now than I was prior December 16th. Thank you!
In closing, I believe America is the only country in the world that has something in common with the human body; the immune system! America’s immune system is in the spirit of her people. Just like the human immune system when America senses an internal threat to her foundation it has the ability to recognize and attack before it can grow into a tumor. So, rest assured. No matter who comes and goes through the oval office, no matter who claims to be the source of trusted news, no matter who tries to dim the shining light on the hill no one person is stronger than America. And, that is good enough for me to tuck my children in tonight knowing I am an American. Therefore my family and I are safe in the hands of her and in the hands God.