This message originally appeared in a worldwide Porter Novelli staff email.
Dear PN Colleagues,
As I travel around the world, and particularly in the U.S., it is clear we are living in a time of increased polarization. The examples of racism, discrimination and bullying are common. Our inability to communicate at any level based on our common beliefs is frustrating. The default instead is to resort to name-calling, judgment, or even hatred and violence. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this as a country, and it may not be the worst we’ve seen.
Most reading this won’t remember the year 1968, but you can google it and see for yourself articles from “the year that shattered America” and “the year that transformed the nation.” In addition to the tragic assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, there was rampant protest and violence, race and civil rights division, and overall discord leading up to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Amid growing tensions, my hometown was fortified with police and security. The National Guard — the armed forces you joined to avoid hand-to-hand combat — was mobilized and ordered to shoot to kill, if necessary. My late father was one of the guardsmen deployed to keep the peace during the “Battle of Chicago,” which resulted in the injuries of 700 civilians and 83 police. He appeared in the cover story of Newsweek Magazine’s September 9 issue, standing among a row of soldiers holding bayonets. What wasn’t covered were his thoughts as a 27-year-old man, just married, about to start a family, committed to doing his public duty, and scared to death. The state of the nation, his home, was confounding.
Fifty years later, I, too, am trying to make sense of what I’m seeing around me: acts of hate based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, and more. Perhaps, that’s why the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia hit me so hard one year ago. Why has my generation not learned more from our fathers and mothers?
Words matter. They can wound. And they can heal.
In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy broke the news of Dr. King’s assassination during a speech from the back of a pick-up truck. Speaking from his heart, he said:
“My favorite poet was Aeschylus, and he once wrote:
‘Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’
What we need in the United States is not division.
What we need in the United States is not hatred.
What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness,
but is love and wisdom and compassion towards one another,
feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country
whether they be white or they be black.”
Similarly, in 2018, what we need in the world is not division. It is not hatred. It is not violence and lawlessness. We need love and wisdom and compassion towards one another, and justice for those who suffer, regardless of our differences.
No matter where we are in the world, regardless of whether we are conservative or liberal, regardless of our skin color or religion, or any other difference, we believe people of every race, color, faith, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, age, cognitive style, physical ability, and military or veteran status are welcome at Porter Novelli.
What unites us is that we believe every person has value and deserves our respect, that no arbitrary designation makes someone superior to another. We view diversity and inclusion as moral and business imperatives. Our organizational values compel us to: stand up for the right idea, collaborate fiercely, dig deeply, embrace imagination and liberate greatness. At Porter Novelli, our purpose is to make a positive impact.
Martin Luther King Jr. wisely instructs us: “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” As we approach the anniversary of last year’s deadly Charlottesville rally, and in the days and weeks ahead, I invite all of us to stand up to hate through our words and action. Let’s stand for love.
Porter Novelli CEO