My uncle immigrated to the United States in 1956 with no assets, a brilliant mind, ambition, and a faith that America was a great country of opportunity. He escaped from Hungary, a country of communists, at the time a source of great fear among many US politicians. If the US President at his time were making policy similar to our President today, my uncle would’ve never been allowed in the US.
My uncle was a good and decent American who, until his death last year, contributed an incredible amount to this country.
He was the CEO of Intel, Time Person of the Year, and is commonly referred to as one of the greatest managers of all time. Steve Jobs sought him out for career advice. The founders of Amazon and Google asked him to be on their boards of directors. He was also a good man.
One of the last public things he did was accept a Legendary Leader award. He was riddled with symptoms of Parkinson’s, but made it a point to say something. “As we sit here and celebrate what we have done, let’s remember that millions of young people who had the misfortune of being born in the wrong national boundaries are going through all the horrors [I did]. I made it. Let’s try to help them.”
This is my attempt.
We are so very lucky to live in this great country where we can speak our minds no matter what our views. I am absolutely sure that that vast majority of Americans, in their heart of hearts, want to help those in need. I am also sure that we reject the notion that we should summarily ban the next Andy Grove from the US because of the country he happened to be born in. Please speak up in the name of the millions of young people who cannot speak up on their own. Please speak in the best way you think you will be heard.
Hate is dissolved by familiarity. Tell stories of your own immigrants. Find stories to tell. But please do it. Think of what you would tell your kids if they wholesale wrote off a group of people because of the color of their skin or the nation of their origin. You would tell them to do the right thing. Be brave. Know that you are on the right side of history. Hate and fear won’t win.
As difficult as it is right now, we also have to keep hope. As devastating as these policies are, they are changeable. This country is great because no matter how small the margin of victory, the victor gets to call the shots. Within the bounds of the Constitution and the law, the rest of us have to respect that. But, let’s not forget the facts. The man in the White House today lost the popular vote and won the electoral college because of a couple hundred thousand votes going his way. He has the lowest approval ratings of any other President at the same time in office. America will reject him when next allowed. In the meantime, let’s all stand up and make what we stand for known.
If you’re as eager to join this conversation as we are to convene it, please join us at the Shift Forum this February 6–8th in San Francisco. We’ve got a very limited number of seats left, and we expect it to sell out shortly. Because the event is held under Chatham House Rule, you’ll have be present to learn from these extraordinary leaders. Non profit and founder discounts are available. We hope to see you there!