The following message was sent from Grand Rapids Metrology’s CEO to all employees regarding current events and our company values:
After the events this weekend in Charlottesville, VA, there is no better time than now to reflect on our stated company values!
My message here has nothing to do with politics! It has everything to do with values; yours, mine and ours, as a company and a nation!
In 2017, it should not need saying but it does! Prejudice, racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, bigotry have no place in our society, our homes and families and our places of business. Voices such as we heard this weekend that espouse white supremacy, Nazi politics and exclusion are unacceptable and need to be addressed by all of us. Our country, our company and our families and friends need to have ongoing conversations about these issues and the application of our values. Silence on these issues is acceptance and acceptance is simply wrong.
Over the years, many of you have heard me quote the great British parliamentarian who said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. As good people with strong values, it is time to speak up for our country, our company, our families and our friends. Silence is not an option.
History is a wonderful teacher. Our country was founded to escape religious persecution and intolerance. We enslaved our fellow man and fought a civil war to free them. We disallowed our women the right vote until the 1920’s. We treated people differently in business, sports and schools because of the color of their skin. We ridiculed, brutalized and discriminated against people because of their sexual preference. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust because much of the world, including us, looked the other way for too long. We allowed women to be paid less and have less opportunity for advancement because they were women. We tried to exclude people from coming to our country because of the mere fact they were Muslim. I could go on with other miscarriages of justice throughout history. Unfortunately, many of these wrongs have been committed and continue to flourish supported by religious beliefs. As a professed free society, we in the United States have continued the evolution of freedom. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to ALL of us without the differences of race, religious belief, sexual preference, gender, etc.
Though tremendous progress has been made, the events of this weekend in Charlottesville prove that there continues an undercurrent of bigotry in our country and the world.
Our Constitutional right to free speech can be a blessing and a curse. That right allows to Ku Klux Klan to spew hatred and intolerance. It allows white supremacists to gather and talk of racial purity. It allows people to speak ill of women, Muslims, blacks, the LGBT community, Hispanics and Jews. It also allows good men to counteract the hatred. Too often, the television networks show us the hate without the counter-action. Hate, extremism and violence get ratings. Discussions of tolerance, working together and acceptance do not make for good TV.
From every historical event, good things can occur if GOOD PEOPLE SPEAK UP! What do we do now?
First, have civil conversations in the workplace, your neighborhood and at your dinner table. The rule is really quite simple. Everyone, regardless of their sex, race, color of their skin, religious beliefs, sexual preference, handicap, income status, etc. have the same basic human rights and the rights to exist EQUALLY in the United States and the world. No exceptions!
Second, we all have to peacefully confront evil and bigotry. We too often see or hear a wrong and we walk away. Peaceful confrontation must be an option. We cannot be afraid when we are on the side of right.
Third, we must stop the discourse in our society. When did it become acceptable to tell people with different opinions re such issues as healthcare, immigration, women’s rights and taxes that, if they disagreed with you, they were wrong and evil? When did it become OK for candidates for office to belittle Mexicans, Muslims and deplorables? Doesn’t “take our country back” really mean to take from some of us to give to others? When did we evolve to the point that someone has to be blamed for every perceived wrong? From the very top offices in our country, television networks, political parties, companies, neighborhoods and families, we must stop the finger pointing, name calling, generalizations and hate speech. We see it on television, we see it from our President, we see it all over! It must stop.
As the CEO, I accept the obligation to show leadership. Leadership, in politics, in business, in your neighborhood and at your dinner table, obligates us, in good times and in times of trouble, to call evil and bigotry what they are—always wrong! Leadership requires that we discuss our history and the evolution of rights for our fellow occupants of this planet. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t lead on these issues enough. If any good can come from the events of Charlottesville, maybe it can be that those events give leadership a louder, more free voice.
Over the next few weeks, I will be holding meetings at all our branches to discuss these issues openly and respectfully. Hopefully, all of you will do so among your friends and families. We are good people; doing or saying nothing is not an option.