It’s been a tough year globally. Many feel the division in our families and societies. It has been heart-breaking to see progress reversed and social & racial tensions exacerbated unnecessarily.
Much of the focus on the public discourse has been how social media and the polarization of information sources has worsened the problem. We seem to be stuck on the narrative that our angst is tied to the arguments we’re having on Facebook, Twitter or the Thanksgiving dinner table.
I feel the weight of these differences, too. There was a period of time where we were encouraged to open up our horizons and make sure we were listening to the viewpoints of others. I did much reflecting and listening and reading.
I wanted to better understand the African American journey and anxiety better so I read “Between the World and Me” which was important to me even if its conclusions were sometimes hard to read. I watched 13th and cried.
I was touched by the messages of J.D. Vance and his poignant comment that white liberals go so far to try and remove any racial & religious prejudices from their minds & hearts yet still condescend and show prejudice against poor, white, working class populations of what we call “fly over states” or areas like Appalachia. It was hard for me to disagree with this view when I heard it so I read his biography “Hillbilly Elegy” and recommend it highly. The first step of understanding is reading an informed narrative of lives lived differently than yours.
I read books like where a professor in moral philosophy — Jonathan Haidt — discusses how humans make decisions in daily life and how they rationalize the choices they make. His book “The Righteous Mind — Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” literally changed my views about how human decision-making and gave me a framework for understanding why some people may be wired to view the world differently than I do. He made me realize that people in industrial areas weren’t necessarily irrational people stupidly voting against their own economic interests but rather were making choices that supported different moral foundations than those that I thought were important to them. He made me think hard and realize that of course I personally vote against my own economic interest by supporting higher taxes and spending on programs to create equality and fairness so it might be understandable that others vote against their perceived economic interests on the other side, too.
I continue to go on a path of self discovery. But in the past year I’ve also realized something very important that I think gets missed in our anger about the blatant racism and anti-semitism and muslim fear-mongering promoted by the President of the United States and the apologists who surround him …
I’ve also found my tribe and feel more bonded to them.
I want to hug Hunter Walk and Manu Kumar for every post on Facebook where they speak out for values I hold dearly. I have grown closer to my sister-in-law Adrienne in absolute pride at her political activism with her three children marching on behalf of women’s rights and tolerance.
I’ve always considered Jason Hirschhorn a dear friend but he has now become family. I have to take twice as many meetings with Rebecca Kantar now because we need half of our meetings to debate how to save the world and half to talk about how Imbellus is moving from strength to strength.
Jonathan Strauss decided to take time off of work to help in local elections. I am inspired by his dedication.
I’ve talked with immigrant founders tell their stories about coming to this country and their fears for their children’s futures. These have gotten emotional and personal and I’ve never felt closer to many of them.
I’ve been proud of my partnership and their complete support for the rights of women and people of color and immigrants and refugees. I feel ever more bonded that we have built a tribe that is supportive and aligned.
I love CRV for the anti-Trump stand they took during the election and I want to find more ways to work with them.
I am grateful for the public voices of Chris Sacca and Kara Swisher and Ina Fried. I feel blessed by the positives notes of encouragement and the voices from friends like Foundry Group. I text Walker & Co. founder Tristan Walker more often and share our frustrations and disbelief but I also feel more kinship and unity.
I feel fortunate that many of my LPs have thanked me for speaking up and I’ve learned so much about their families and their own personal missions. I feel united.
I am grateful that my kids who long teased me for watching too many politics shows on Sundays now regularly watch Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert and know way more about what’s going on in the United States than they ever have before. They are engaged. Like many others we stopped watching Jimmy Fallon. He’s still lovable and funny but he missed his key moment to stand up when others felt more like they had my back. I never mentioned it to anybody but it seems millions of other people switched, too. We found our tribe.
In the wake of Charlottesville it is easy to feel despondent. But the reaction of cities to rip down Confederate statues across the country is such a positive boomerang effect and I love the momentum I see. As the line from from “Washington on Your Side” in “Hamilton” goes (borrowing from Newton, of course) …
“Every action has its equal, opposite reactions”
From the actions of hatred supported by the president, it has spurred more cities, more states and more citizens into action.
Politics in this country are going to get a whole lot worse. I will have to unfollow more people because frankly I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THEIR VOICES. And I’m ok with that. I can understand the other side from reading thoughtful books and magazine articles and not from vitriolic yelling or trying to justify blatant racism. I don’t need that in my life. And it’s ok if they’re tired of hearing from me, too, and choose to unfollow. I can’t NOT speak up: Silence killed too many of my tribe just 75 years ago in Europe.
But as things get a whole lot worse I also have comfort that my relationships and bonds with those I love, admire and respect are going to get a whole lot stronger. And it’s time we look at the positive side of this moment in time.
I’ve found my tribe.