I really liked this post by Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, titled ‘Words Matter‘.
Leaders act to cement our best attributes, bring out our strongest selves and align us as a people around our core values. Especially when we can’t look to our politicians as leaders, community leaders in civic, religious, and business realms need to speak up. So as a business leader, I feel the duty to take up that responsibility.
Those currently in political power have turned our values upside down, and legitimized aspects of our society that were previously shunned. By telling white supremacists it’s ok to have racist views, they’ve made it acceptable to talk about white supremacy in the open, without fear of reprisal, making racist views akin to discussing who you favor in the World Series or whether organic foods are worth the cost. And emboldened by this legitimacy, some will go further than words.
Society is a delicate thing — getting millions of humans to act in some form of harmony and common good is remarkable. Humans are tribal creatures by nature, and our modern societies are a reflection of the tribe at a massive scale. So it’s our job as a society to decide who’s part of our tribe, and who is not. We’ve seen the ugly side of this in recent years — those in power telling us who ISN’T a part of the American tribe: immigrants. But as disturbing is who has allowed to become a part of our tribe: white supremacists.
Later Jeff writes:
Words matter — they legitimize hate and the acts that hate brings from the most unhinged of society. So far the executive branch has led this campaign, and the congress has done nothing to mitigate it. It’s time to end this insanity, and stabilize our tribe’s values. Next week, we have the opportunity to vote — and send a message about the tribe we are. There are candidates of both parties who will stand up against the normalization of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, and hate. Regardless of which party you support, I believe the only American stance is to support candidates who will stand up against the words of hate and hold power-holders accountable. And standing up means speaking up strongly against this hate, not just quietly shaking your head.
I could not have written it better myself. Thank-you Jeff.
I am fascinated with words because of comedy. I am grateful that I see the world through the lens I was given.
I am jewish. I was raised a conservative jew and went to Beth Tzedec elementary and middle school in Toronto. Half the day we studied in Hebrew and half the day in English. We also had Yiddish and French class. I know what words can do and have done.
Also published on Medium.