I object to the sentiment that the “real heroes” are either, or. Us, them. That any one group universally has heroes or villains.
It’s true that we have heroes among the nurses and doctors, postal officers, delivery people, grocery store workers, and so many more. I have deep gratitude for those who risk their lives to serve us, especially those who are overworked, underpaid, and until recently were often overlooked.
It’s just as true that we have heroes among our government leaders and CEOs. Leaders who are using their power and wealth to serve the underserved. Who donate millions and billions of dollars and supplies to organizations who are skilled and staffed to help those in need. I have equally deep gratitude for this group who are currently being overlooked and underappreciated. Who have somehow become villains in memes.
Maybe I’m taking this uber personally because the company I work for (Cisco, led by Chuck Robbins) is doing amazing things.
We secured and distributed thousands (maybe millions) of N95 masks and surgical masks. We’re using 3D printing to produce more masks and shields. We donated $2M to Covenant House alone. We rallied other companies in the Bay Area to support Destination: Home and continue to make large contributions ourselves. We had a 72 hour Let’s Give campaign which raised $700k+. We allocated $8M in cash and $210M in product to the global coronavirus response. We sponsored the Global Citizen fundraiser, #TogetheratHome. We gave customers and partners $2.5B in financing for business resiliency. We continue to pay hourly workers who aren’t working (such as café workers and janitors). We increased volunteer hours from 5 to 10 days for the remainder of the year.
Did that last paragraph of some of the things Cisco is doing overwhelm you? It was meant to. It demonstrates a little bit of what one company, one CEO is doing. Yes, I understand that not every company or CEO is doing what we’re doing. But many are, and they deserve our gratitude not our disdain.
So, I object.
I object to the posts that say things like “when this is over, let’s remember that it wasn’t the CEOs & Billionaires who save us, it was the bus drivers, janitors, nurses, truck driver, and food workers”.
What is meant to be a message of redirected appreciation says that one group deserves recognition, but another doesn’t. It divides us. We can’t simultaneously say that we’re all in this together then segment our population to say that one group is helpful, but the other is not.
Perhaps if we focus on individual stories instead of lumping groups of people together we can see that every one of us has an opportunity to make a difference. It’s not about power, wealth or lack thereof. It’s about heart. Compassion. Empathy. And togetherness.