For the past couple weeks, I have been organizing my thoughts for my annual Holiday message. I pondered over our successes and challenges, our employees, customers and suppliers and our good fortune. After all, as I have told you before, I am the eternal optimist!
As I was putting myself in the holiday mood and preparing to begin to write, I received a message on my cell phone last week regarding the horrific events in San Bernardino, California. My mood changed quickly and along with my mood, my thoughts and my message.
I know several things for sure. One, I will remain optimistic. We live in a country of tremendous opportunity, full of people who do the right thing every day, work hard, worship at churches of their choice and encourage their friends and relatives to be good citizens. I am thankful to our employees at Grand Rapids Metrology, who make me look good every day and who come to work each day to improve themselves and their fellow employees. I appreciate our customers and suppliers for their loyalty and their values. I am blessed with many friends and colleagues on whom I can always rely for comfort, support and incredible knowledge and wisdom. Most of all, I am blessed with a wife of 32 years and two wonderful daughters who love and support me every day and make me proud beyond words. What a lucky guy I am!
Back to San Bernardino. I want to speak to you as a 64 year old friend, father, husband, employer, supplier and sometime advisor. Too many people in the world are angry, dissatisfied, selfish, entitled, racist, homophobic and narcissistic. Much of the world seems at a boiling point. Political polarization seems more extreme than at any point in my life. Politicians who bloviate about fear and terror seem to have the largest followings. Our leaders spend their political capital bashing one another instead of solving problems. Many leaders are afraid or unable to lead because of perceived “political correctness”, whatever that might be! Racial and ethnic issues are exacerbated by political posturing. More and more people around the world seem to be motivated by an ever increasing sense of entitlement. Many college students have forgotten that campuses are places of learning, not places to pout and demand. Even in small places of employment like ours, there seems to be more “what’s in it for me” narcissism. I read yesterday that 8,000 children die around the world every day from hunger. Feelings of religious persecution, resentment and misunderstanding create a worldwide epidemic. What are we going to do as a nation, as a company and as individuals?
Our country and our values seem to be under attack, sometimes by our own leaders, who for reasons unknown feel the need to apologize for our historical role in world affairs. Deviant religious extremists want nothing more than to kill us. They seem to be able to dote on the anger of some of the marginal, disenfranchised residents of our country to act out on their behalf. Too much anger, too much division, too much political division, too many principles and not enough values. Hate, anger, violence and resentment only serve to breed responsive hate, anger, violence and resentment. We are living in a whirlpool from which we need to escape. Our leaders do not seem able or interested in leading us out of this quagmire. They blame one another, religions, races and even climate change. Leaders need to talk about values, not about reactions. Maybe we need new leaders. We, as a nation, certainly deserve better.
I ask, why do our leaders seem embarrassed by our nation’s success and history? Why do leaders and media talking heads encourage class and race warfare? Why are corporate profits somehow dirty? Why is a sense of entitlement more admired than a sense of achievement? Why do we seem to be encouraged to do less and ask for more? I really don’t know all the answers but, I do know that each of us can work toward solving the problems and it all starts with our sense of leadership, our confidence and our knowledge and recognition of our values. We cannot be casual observers who complain about issues but do nothing to solve them. We need to speak up and speak out. We owe that to one another but, more importantly to ourselves.
So, with all that said and all the violence and division in the world, with all the negative talk, anger, resentment, entitlement, racism, etc., I remain optimistic for all the reasons listed in my third paragraph above. My Christmas wishes for all of us:
- That our families and friends show us the love and support that we want and deserve and encourage us in our personal success and that we have the love and wisdom to do the same for them.
- That we treat one another with respect and dignity in everything we do. We are meant to encourage and teach one another. Ridicule, public embarrassment, violence and prejudice must never show their faces in our homes, work or public gatherings.
- That we know and advertise our personal values. Value systems around the world have been replaced by political principles, often extreme and exclusionary. Write your values down, share them and most importantly, live them.
- That we, as individuals, media members, politicians, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, etc. learn to confront anger, discrimination, prejudice and violence. Unfortunately, we see these things celebrated every night on our televisions. Rest assured, there will be a made for TV movie about San Bernardino. We need to find ways to turn that around.
- That the leadership role of our country in the world portray our values, not our politics. Leaders need to be held accountable to show America’s core values of freedom and independence. We are a country of individual and collective success and achievement.
- That success be praised and encouraged and not be portrayed as unfair and somehow evil. The capitalist economy of America has provided so much to the world. We cannot take actions against this success mechanism because of politicians who want to call it “unfair”.
- That we more aggressively address poverty and opportunity. I see income and asset inequality as a problem in our future that could prove catastrophic. Our system has made it easier to be entitled than to be successful.
- That we respect all religions. I don’t know of an evil religion though throughout history, evil has been done in the name of religions.
- That when evil presents itself as it did in San Bernardino, we need to point out the evil, what caused it and chase it down without shame and deal with it. This must be a worldwide effort of all nations.
- That we all be more charitable with our money and our time.
- That I personally have the courage to lead effectively and encourage leaders among you.
That is a pretty extensive list for Santa! Each of us, by the way we talk, work and serve can make little contributions that will collectively change the world.
Charity is a wonderful way to share your success and values. There are many large and small charities, local and nationwide that need and deserve our support. As a final part of my holiday message, I am asking our GRM employees to join me quarterly to participate in GRAND RAPIDS METROLOGY CARES! We will meet each quarter with every attendee bringing a $10 bill for charity which the company will match with another $10 and we will pick a charity as a group for that quarter’s donation. We will ask interested people to bring and recommend charities. Obviously, this will be voluntary. Our branches will participate by phone and/or video.
I wish you all a blessed, safe and Merry Christmas and blessings of prosperity and success in 2016! Thank you for all you do for Grand Rapids Metrology.