Reflections on Nice Going Into The Weekend

I woke up feeling subdued this morning. I didn’t know why but after talking to Amy I realized that the emotional impact on me of the horror in Nice is weighing on me. Amy described her connection to it to me – she’s been physically in the same spot that the tragedy happened – and even though we are far away, something very personal hit home about the whole thing.

We are long-time friends with Fred and Joanne Wilson. After my call with Amy, I did my daily news routine, which includes a few minutes in Feedly skimming all the blogs I subscribe to and reading the ones that catch my attention. Both Fred’s and Joanne’s did today.

I read Joanne’s post from yesterday titled Pledge 1% first. It perked me up a little and made me smile, as Pledge 1% is the evolution of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado which I co-founded in 2007. My partner Seth Levine took the lead a few years in and, with a few other people including Ryan Martens, the co-founder of Rally Software, have evolved our model into a national one. It makes me very happy to see it expanding to NYC in a significant way with Joanne supporting it. If you are in NYC and interested in learning more, attend the Pledge 1% Happy Hour on July 27th.

I then ended up on Fred’s blog. He wrote What Do You Do? What Do You Say? about Nice. In many of the recent attacks and violent situations I’ve felt emotional kinship to Fred. He’s written about things right away in words that are heartfelt and reflect my emotions. I’ve commented on the posts, supported the charities Fred has pointed out, such as the Fund for Nice, and occasionally written a post pointing at them. But I’ve definitely been more reserved about my emotions as it takes me at least a day or two to process them, and at that point the world has often moved on from the immediate aftermath of whatever happened.

Today I didn’t feel like waiting. Amy and I have a quiet weekend together and plan to have dinner with my parents and aunt Cindy/uncle Charlie on Saturday and then brunch with David and Jill Cohen on Sunday. These are all people we love deeply and we get to be with them in a very safe and comfortable context. I’m going for two long runs, will spend time finishing up the third edition of Venture Deals, and just being with my beloved.

Against the backdrop of this, the Nice events are extremely unsettling. Fred ended his post with a powerful introspection / call to action:

There is an epidemic in the world, a sickness that is spreading and afflicting more and more people. It is mental illness. We need to diagnose its cause and treat it. Until we do that, we will be facing more of these mornings. I think many of us are wondering what we can do to help with that. I certainly am.

I hear entrepreneurs use the word disruption on a daily basis and continuously hear the cliche change the world. In entrepreneurial circles, it’s clear to me that violence, hatred, and discrimination or whatever you want to label it is another category where we need to pay attention to disruption before it changes the world in ways we don’t want it to. Or that we need to change the world away from the themes that are starting to appear on a very regular basis. I don’t have answers, but I know I’ll have reflections this weekend.

Also published on Medium.

  • Sadly, this horrible cycle started becoming too visible to the Western world since 9/11, and we have been living in a fear of terrorism for 15 years, whether it’s Paris, New York, London, Beirut, Tel Aviv or any other place where bombs explode for no reason except to kill innocent people.

    This cannot continue like that. The world and its problems are inter-connected. I look forward to the day when we can go into airports again without being searched and triple checked. When the absurd becomes the norm, it’s a sad day.

  • So weird cuz I’ve been having a reaction that I’m almost embarassed about. I haven’t thougtht about it at all. Its become so routine all around the world that its almost like it didnt register when I heard it. It doesn’t seem like I should feel that way but the numbness is setting in cuz of the recent frequency of these events I think.

    I sure don’t know what to do about it tho. I don’t think taking our guns away will help and neither will sending the tanks into Syria. I just don’t know what should be done? What’s really depressing is, maybe nothing 🙁 There have been terrorist attacks in one form or another my whole life. What an annoying part of our species.

  • Terry Martin

    As a mental health advocate for Caregivers of the elderly – my reaction is the same – it’ a mental illness and we must get a strategy in place to cure this situation. Hate, anger, greed, wrong thinking and envy. It is a therapist’s nightmare. All the challenges in one place – the mind of an angry lost soul. I too am sad and am walking with a heavy heart – I know there will be more and the feeling of helplessness to prevent is heavy. thanks for your open writing.

  • I’ve been thinking recently how the internet and social media are being used. We have more data available that we can possibly comprehend so people end up choosing their data to turn it into information that they can comprehend. A lot of time people will only choose information that supports their views, making them more isolated from differing views. In 2016 we have all the available facts but perception still seems to matter more than facts.

    Social media is also allowing those who want to hate a group of people more information to fuel their perceptions. Want to hate Muslims? Find a few hundred posts from and about hateful Muslims to prove yourself correct. Want to hate Americans? Do the same thing! You can do this with any group to justify your own ignorant hatred. It also works to find things to love about different people but that’s not a problem I want to fix. I guess the question I have is: How do you convince people to not want to hate?

  • Mercedes

    I have been reading your posts for a while now. Today felt like a day when I can comment and offer at least some sort of hope for violent situations. For all you readers out there, there is a company working on disrupting the physical security space, can it prevent violent attacks? maybe, can it keep people safe, you bet! take a look if you are interested
    9/11 hit us all hard and it is rewarding to know that we are doing something about it.

  • Dean Collins

    I know I’m not going to win any friends here……but since when have I ever been backwards about being forward.

    If you want to do something Brad… a smaller car and lobby for a gas tax.

    American intervention around the world is the biggest cause of terrorism and Nice can be directly linked to supporting the Shah of Iran in the 50’s.

    In case anyone reading this feels that ‘blowback’ is just a theory and not relevant how about Obama and Clinton funding “moderate rebels” to overthrow Assad in 2012…..ooops shame the group they funded went south instead of west.

    Just in case anyone doesn’t understand that Nice on Thursday and Turkey on Friday are directly related….I suggest you google “CIA+Libyan Weapons to Syria” and how they directly assisted via our friend Erdogan in Turkey the shipment of weapons.

    I know you are coming from place of good…….but a mirror for America and some introspection is the only place to start……or better still fund some code that really tracks the laws that are being passed so voters can understand really what the person they put into power has been doing each week.

  • Rosey

    (Sorry for the long post — didn’t intend it…)

    Brad, is it a mental illness or a predictable event within a human running the operating system or ‘social contract’ app called Islam?

    History and the analysis of Muslim violence against non-Muslims asserts that a rise in the share Muslims govern in a territory, the greater the suppression of non-Muslims — certainly in the Middle East. That would make it a feature, not a bug.

    If we assert that most of the billions of Muslims are not so antagonistic against non-Muslims, as in say, Indonesia — then what happened in Nice, Paris, etc. is ‘a bug’ not a feature.

    How one answers this Muslim ‘bug’ or ‘feature’ question shapes one’s response.

    Or, is this just the violent collisions at the edge of the tectonic plates of two majority civilizations — “Western” and “Islam”? Dr. Jerod Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel” would conclude there is no morality — no self-evident truth or rightness. Just two great tribes fighting over territory. And Salifist Wahabist Islam is a version of a social operating system that’s evolved — fittest of the survivors, incubated in a resource constrained desert — Arabia. They are simply the best predator, where Kamikaze-style warriors are ‘features’ of the operating system.

    This ennui Amy and you (and no doubt many of us) feel is similar to the daily drip of death-notice telegrams delivered to originally isolationist American families beginning in 1941. We’re becoming desensitized and will continue to drift into that unmerciful hell that descended into the dropping of the atomic bombs four years later in 1945.

    The sad reality is we hoped the rise of the internet would flatten the earth and dissolve the barriers of nations that promoted nationalism and xenophobia. We naively thought social media would inspire democracy and enlightenment — that people would see what is possible and change their national narratives toward democratic liberalism. Fat chance. What’s happened is the poor of the world saw, on social media, how the West was living materially wonderful lives and, instead of fixing their own neighborhoods, they voted with their feet. We now have an international migration that is simply overwhelming the West’s social contracts.

    We’re in the middle of a massive reset on a couple of levels, and it, to me, FEELS like 1910 or late 1930’s. War? Not sure. But a great re-set or realignment. And sadly, there are so many Muslims running on this feature or bug — back to Nice, it’s shoving us collectively through that Kantor’s stages of grief.
    We’re starting to exit the ‘denial’ phase — and starting to think about how to stop these bastards.

    My 2 cents. Thanks .

  • I’ve been to Nice twice to speak at conferences, 2001 and 2006. It quickly became my favorite place in Europe, not only could I do business there, but it was ethnically diverse, beautifully nestled between the Maritime Alps and the Med, and the cuisine was spectacular. I walked from my hotel to various meetings about town, brushed up on my French but had no problem doing business in English. I felt welcome.
    On my first trip, I brought my wife and at the time 1 year old son (I hesitated, she insisted!). I kept them at bay until after I spoke at a conference and had client meetings, but then we went out late for dinner. We met a French couple who were closing their restaurant for the night, when they saw us walk up with our baby stroller.
    They insisted we come in and they fixed a private dinner for us, on the house. They had a 7 or 8 year old daughter who played with our son, and we practiced each other’s languages as we enjoyed this spontaneous friendship with this restaurateur couple from Nice. Such encounters are always special, but I wanted to tell the story again given that it happened in Nice.
    At the time, I had a fat salary and I was on an expense account, I wanted to pay, but our friends insisted, they said it would be like inviting friends for dinner then charging them for it. Attitudes like that change the world, one dinner at a time.

  • mlmcconnell

    Hi Brad,

    Apparently some people had figured out what they “can do to help with that.” I think it’s a mistake to be binary about mental illness vs. religious beliefs. L’un n’empêche l’autre.