Our global conversations are growing more divisive, not less. Our towns and cities are witnessing more anger, not less.
We must act. You. Me. All. And the first act is speaking out.
Sixteen years ago, I had the privilege of listening to an amazing man tell his story and ask very insightful questions.
While his stories were then-60 years old, if you listened carefully, you could hear all of today’s themes: anger, polarization, fear, social contracts and obligations, the need for people to be cherished and loved, and more.
He talked about secrecy, human rights, and hacking when discussing how British mathematicians broke the Nazi wartime code using a captured Enigma machine. He asked the question: “Churchill and Roosevelt then knew what was happening. Why didn’t they do more? …Why didn’t they do more?”
He wasn’t angry. I wondered if this gentle man ever got angry. His question was more of a lifetime search through confusing and conflicting truths.
He would be told that if these leaders had done more, acting on what they knew, they would have tipped their hand to Hitler that they had broken the German code.
So they sat on their hands, and watched.
“Why didn’t they just bomb the tracks?” he asked.
“We now know that they knew, at the time, exactly where those tracks led and what happened every day because of them. Why didn’t they bomb the tracks?”
The tracks he spoke of led to places like Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Treblinka.
The gentle man with very deep questions and few answers was Elie Wiesel; Auschwitz Holocaust survivor, writer, teacher, Nobel Peace Laureate, and humanitarian.
I mention this not to compare today’s discussions to his. There is no comparison.
But, to me, his questions cut through the clutter of the moment.
What we’re all talking about is leadership. And tough choices. And doing the right thing when faced with multiple paradoxes, enigmas, and conflicting needs.
Regardless of the technology or crises of the moment, every conversation about The Future Of… Work, Families, Health, Economies, Safety, Countries, Education, Air, Water… and more… are all part of our own personal journeys.
Journeys where there are more questions than answers, and all the answers require character and the will to do things just because they’re the right things to do.
When it comes to looking inside ourselves, and taking a stand for the future of (…fill in the blank…) — that’s a journey we must all face every day of our lives. Whether we’re tackling something the whole world must never forget, or whether we’re just trying to make it through another day.
Making a difference matters. Speaking out matters.
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