As we approach our celebration of Independence this week in the midst of several crises, I can’t help but reflect on where we are as a country. I’m proud to be an American and am extremely grateful for all the liberties, rights, and freedoms that many before me have fought and protested for in this country. I’m equally proud of all those that have stood up against and those that still stand against social injustice, in order to make our country a better place.
Normally on the 4th of July, I would be getting together with friends to grill some food, watch fireworks, and maybe hit the road to enjoy quality time away with my family, but this year is very different. Everything we may have taken for granted over the years seems less guaranteed with so many across our nation and world hurting. I truly believe kindness should be enough to move mountains, but I think we need more than kindness to be the change we want to see in the world.
As we approach the halfway mark in 2020, we’re confronting two diseases in the US. The first has crippled our economy and resulted in the deaths of far too many of our fellow human beings. And while the pain is severe, it will eventually lift as we build collective immunity and eventually have a vaccine. This disease should be bringing us together as we work together in kindness to protect those most vulnerable which will also protect our economy. I encourage you to think about the sacrifices you made that you will be proud to share with your grandkids and not focus on any short term inconveniences that are no less onerous than wearing shoes and shirts in stores.
The second disease is one that America has been fighting since we were founded: Racism. Make no mistake, this disease is alive and well, fostered by apathy just as much as the racist super-spreaders. This disease is similar to the COVID disease in a few regards: 1) it spreads very easily, 2) some people have severe cases and some don’t show any symptoms on the outside, and 3) there is no easy cure. The good news is we’ve been beating this disease since the Civil War and our collective will to eradicate this disease is stronger than ever. The even better news is we each can make a difference in our own lives, at work, and in our communities to ensure we put this dark chapter in our history to bed for good.
I am a serial entrepreneur and one thing that I have always done is to respect the differences and beliefs that each of my employees, customers, and partners brings to the table. I have come to the conclusion that this is not enough. I am making significant changes in my personal and business life to do more listening and learning so I can truly understand the systemic racism embedded in our country first. I’m also spending a lot of time looking inward to understand how my beliefs and actions can be improved, including some hard truths I haven’t wanted to explore. We’re doing the same at Retrolux and want to make sure we have our house in order before sharing an overview of our process and the concrete action plan we’ll be executing, including steps already taken. One this is clear, our team is unanimous in our commitment to actively fighting racism, promoting and practicing diversity and inclusion, and standing with those doing the same.
While things may look tough right now, I am excited to be living through AND contributing to a time in America where we are making real, positive, and durable changes in this country for all of our people. We’ve overcome bigger challenges and I know we’ll do so this time and come out stronger than ever
Don’t just turn on the light, Be The Light, and a Beacon For Change In This World.
Leif Elgethun, CEO