What This World Needs

What This World Needs

The world isn’t perfect but it’s currently the only one we have. It’s our responsibility to make it better.

What has happened this past week in the US has people enraged and deeply saddened:

07/05/16: Louisiana – Alton Sterling, an African-American man selling CD’s was tackled to the ground then shot 5 times and killed by a police officers. A video was published on Facebook.

07/06/16: Minnesota – Philando Castile, an African American was stopped for a broken taillight. He was carrying a firearm in his pocket and had a concealed weapons permit. According the the livestreamed video by Philando’s girlfriend, the officer asked for ID and when Philando reached to grab it, the officer opened fire 4 times, killing him moments later. The 4 year old daughter was in the back seat.

07/07/16: In Dallas during a protest, 12 police officers were shot by snipers, 5 of which died.

I believe that as a species, we’re moving to a higher level of consciousness and awareness. I believe in the human spirit and in our ability to do good. I believe in the human spirit that favors compassion and peace over hate and destruction. Except that most days, my beliefs are constantly being challenged.

I’ve never felt more enraged, conflicted, and saddened than I have this past week and I honestly couldn’t help but think: “That could have been my dad. That could have been me.”

Several years ago, my dad was out preaching The Gospel as he usually did on weeknights. It was raining outside so he had his Bible under his arm, covered by his coat as he went into a store. As he was exiting the store, he was encountered by several police officers waiting outside.

The cashier had called 911 thinking my dad had entered with a firearm

The officers yelled at him to put his hands up, but my dad began to reach for his Bible. He spoke very little English, was confused, and he didn’t want to drop the Bible on the wet and rainy concrete. The officers drew their guns, but my dad immediately raised his hands and the Bible fell to the ground.

On Christmas Eve 2015, I was out for a run near UCLA when a police officer stopped me for crossing the street before the light turned to ‘walk’. He thought I was running away from something (maybe he thought I was stealing or doing something illegal) and threatened I would get arrested if I tried to run again.

I was wearing my Under Armour workout clothes – a pair of red shorts and a black t-shirt – with only my cell phone and water bottle on me. (I’ve never worn that outfit in public again. A Latino in LA wearing red and black or blue and gray = bad outfit when dealing with cops, especially when you’re running.)

He asked for my ID and as I moved my hand to pull it out of my pocket, the officer got startled and unholstered his gun. He proceeded to call 5 other officers nearby, who stood there while I got a citation.

I try to be optimistic about things and only speak when I feel I have value to add or solutions to bring to the table. However, despite how disturbed I felt about what happened last week, or my past experiences, I’ve found it incredibly hard to say much. Everything I stood for was being challenged.

My mission as an entrepreneur is to help people live a better quality of life, but I know that at the end of the day, we’re each on our own personal journey as a human being. We alone are responsible for the outcome of our journey and for creating the life we desire.

I’m blessed to be in this great country where I have such freedoms. But when entire groups of people, including myself, feel that this very freedom is being threatened, you can’t help but feel fear. When the political narrative seems to be going against everything you promote, it’s not easy to stay strong and keep pushing forward.

I don’t watch any major media, news or TV in order to keep myself positive and sane. When I do, I just end up scratching my head and asking myself “why?” I reminded myself that this is the same story. Different names, different cities, different circumstance, but the suffering has always been going on.

But this is a global problem that unfortunately has become the common narrative of our time.

  1. June 20, 2016 in Oaxaca Mexico: 6 protesters were killed in a clash with Police and 100 injured.
  2. Senseless terror attacks in France, Belgium, Turkey, Syria, and the Middle East continue.
  3. 569 people killed (to date) by police in 2016, 137 of which were African Americans. In 2014, Michael Brown was unarmed and shot by Police in Ferguson, Missouri.
  4. June 12, 2016: Shooting in Orlando killing 49 and injuring 53
  5. Sandy Hook Elementary
  6. In 2009, a young female student was shot by authorities during the presidential elections in Iran. The video was posted on Youtube.
  7. In 2014, 43 Mexican students were kidnapped after a clash with police, and never found.
  8. More people have died as a result of the drug wars in Mexico than in the entire Iraq and Afghanistan war

The list can go on and on.

Sometimes people ask me why I cared so much, they advise me to just go on with my life and save myself the trouble. “You can’t fix the world” they say.

More often than not they encourage me to just let it go. To not care so much.

As I was thinking this, I was in my Hollywood office looking outside my window at some palm trees. I felt safe. I tried focusing my energy on the positive, which is easy to do in a air conditioned office on the 4th floor of a beautiful office. I would keep focusing on my work for the day, then I would grab an Uber home, and everything would be ok.

I called my girlfriend and told her I loved her, I told her I would do anything to keep her and our future family safe. She’s an immigrant from Iran and we’ve talked about moving to another country to settle down. Maybe France or a small quiet part of Europe.

Then, I heard about the 12 officers in Dallas, I couldn’t help but feel deeply conflicted. How could I try to ignore and stay quiet when people were feeling immense pain, anger and frustration. How could I stay quiet when everyone thinks the world we’re living in is turning on it’s head.

I’ve been studying the work of Dr Martin Luther King recently and his words couldn’t be more relevant to me than they are today.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

The fact is that, though it may be hard to see, the world is getting better. It’s getting better because the human spirit is wired to make improvements, to evolve into something better, to grow and to learn.

Education levels have gone up, the number of people living in poverty has gone down, infant mortality rates have dropped, violent crimes have gone down, and on and on. Here’s another post with data to show the world is getting better.

There’s more technology in the palm of your hand than there was on the computer that landed the first man on the moon. You have access to more information (and faster), than the President of the most powerful nation on the planet had just 30 years ago. If you live in the US or any developed country, you have incredible resources that 7+ billion people can only dream of, and that they’d sacrifice anything to get.

If we’ve come this far as a species, we can keep going even further. These problems we have today all have solutions, but we must come from a place of love not a place of hate.

We must come from a place of compassion and empathy, not a place of anger, fear, or revenge. We’ve gone through a lot of pain as a species, let’s not perpetuate that which causes it.

As entrepreneurs, we’re wired to solve problems, to add value, and to leave things better than we found them.

We need people solving these issues and improving our human condition in all fronts.

To those who ask me not to let these things bother me and to focus on my personal success, I simply say that I truly believe this to be my journey. If I am to be successful at my mission of helping people live a better quality of life, then I must keep pushing this forward.

I care because I don’t want my children to inherit a world that remains broken and in pain. I want them to know that these things were created by people, and can be changed by people. I want them to see that there are people with courage to do something, for in the words of Dr. King:

Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;
but one must take it because it is right.” -Dr King

Though it may be hard to see at times, I still believe we’re moving to a higher level of consciousness and awareness. One that doesn’t tolerate injustice. One that values human lives.

I still believe in the human spirit and in our ability to do good.

The world isn’t perfect but it’s currently the only one we have. It’s our responsibility to make it better.

I still believe in the human spirit that favors compassion and peace over hate and destruction. And most days, when my belief system is being challenged, I still choose to believe.

What Inspired This Post

“There are more things uniting us than dividing us.”

This video was an ad campaign for a travel company that took people on a journey based on their DNA and where they originated from. If we simply had the curiosity to study where we came from, we would realized we’re not much different than our neighbor. The narrative we use to defend what we fight for, is the same narrative everywhere in the world. We all simply want a better quality of life.

Quote by Dr. King

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.

So it goes.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Daymond John’s Call For Entrepreneurs.

  • Daymond John was stopped and harassed by police 20 times.
  • 8 times a gun was pulled on him

Michael Brown, Same Story by Prince Ea

“I’m NOT Black, You’re Not White” spoken word poem by Prince Ea.

“This world should end” by Prince Ea

Got something to say? Leave a comment and tweet me @hugofnd

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