Last night Amy and I hosted an event at our house for the ACLU and Earthjustice, two organizations we are significant supporters of. If you told me 20 years ago that I’d be spending a lot of my philanthropic energy supporting lawyers, I would have aggressively rejected the notion. But if you had described what is going on in the US right now, I would have also aggressively rejected the notion.
Since the election, Amy has had a great tagline for me.
Action is the antidote.
She’s amazing and the energy she puts behind this is unwavering. I’m extremely fortunate to have her as my life partner – it buoys me up regularly, especially around things that I might otherwise just ignore.
Last night’s event was great. We heard from David Cole (the ACLU Legal Director) and Patrice Simms (the Earthjustice VP of Litigation). Like me, they are each long-term optimists so their perspective is not just about tomorrow (although much of their focus is on today and tomorrow).
In the middle of the discussion. David mentioned a quote that he attributed to Cornel West and Roberto Unger from their 1998 book titled The Future of American Progressivism. The quote, which is the title of this post, is “Hope is the consequence of action.” I believe, but am not certain, that it comes from this passage:
“Change requires neither saintliness nor genius. What it does require is the conviction of the incomparable value of life. Nothing should matter more to us than the attempt to grasp our life while we have it, and to awaken from the slumber of routine, of compromise and prostration, so that we may die only once. Hope is not the condition or cause of action. Hope is the consequence of action. And those who fail in hope should act, practically or conceptually, so that they may hope.”
David deconstructed this to explain that action doesn’t come from hope, but hope comes from action. Chew on that for a bit – it’s important in every context, not just politics. Apply it to any situation – work or personal; exogenous or endogenous; positive or negative. Take action, which will generate hope, rather than use your hope to generate action.
When I think about my life and my work, it applies. I take action all the time, and that’s what creates hope and makes me optimistic.
If you are inspired by this, I’ll leave you with a recent Cornel West talk at the most recent Harvard Divinity School’s Convocation address.
Following is a beautiful and brilliant TED talk by Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the ACLU. It’s definitely worth 12 minutes of your life to watch.
Sunday morning Fred Wilson put up the following blog post: A $20,000 Match Offer On ACLU Donations Today. Joanne Wilson put up a similar post titled A $20,000 Match Offer On ACLU Donations Today on her blog.
It came after a flurry of emails that started with one from me at 7:41am.
“Inspired by Chris Sacca, Amy and I are considering doing an ACLU grant with a 100% match”
Joanne, Fred, Amy, and I were all distressed by Trump’s executive order on immigration, which Fred wrote about in Make America Hate Again and I wrote in Unsettled and Disgusted. We had seen the ACLU already jump into action so we collectively decided to do something about it by supporting it.
Fred’s partner Albert Wenger and his wife Susan Danzinger had already started a match for $15,000 so we (Fred, Joanne, me, and Amy) agreed that when they maxed out they’d hand the ball to us to match for another $20,000.
Jet lag then ate my soul and I went to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up, Amy said “we did something good while you were asleep.” I had well over 100 tweets with ACLU receipts, Fred had started a spreadsheet of all the matching gifts, and we had blown through our $20,000 match. By the end of the day, we were over $90,000 of matches with more coming in so we stopped counting and, with our $20,000, were easily over $100,000 to the ACLU in one day, which started with Fred’s blog post.
By the end of the day it had picked up enough speed to become a TechCrunch article: Some tech executives are matching ACLU donations amid immigration ban protests.
We know more executive orders on immigration are expected. Bloomberg is hinting Trump’s Next Move on Immigration to Hit Closer to Home for Tech. Regardless of how this plays out, I’m hopeful that Congress will step up and do their job at this point, rather than just let executive orders slide by, create chaos, and get litigated in court. Remember – Congress makes the laws and the President is supposed to execute the instructions of Congress.
In the mean time, thanks to everyone who contributed to the ACLU match yesterday. We helped the ACLU raise $24 million since Saturday morning. For perspective, the ACLU typically raises a total of $4 million in a year. Amy and I have been long time ACLU supporters and I expect they will have an outsized and important role in our democracy in the next four years.
I arrived home from Australia yesterday. David Cohen and I spent the week there together to learn more about the various startup communities in Australia, to spend some time with the team that is leading Techstars Defence in Adelaide, and to watch an amazing Federer / Wawrinka semi-final.
I didn’t find out about Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees and Visas (the nicest thing I could come up with calling it) until arriving home Saturday mid-day and hearing about it from Amy. I was so jet-lagged that I took a shower and crawled into bed as I couldn’t process any new information. I was on a digital sabbath so I figured I’d read about it today.
When I woke up for dinner, Amy filled me in. I listened in a state of disbelief. At some intellectual level I knew this was coming, but I couldn’t believe that it was an executive order issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day. I’m glad the ACLU (which Amy and I strongly support) and the US judicial system is doing its job while the ban appears to be generating predictable chaos.
I’m always a little anxious when I travel internationally because of the rough experience I had getting back into the US from Canada four years ago. I know it’s an irrational emotional response on my part to be anxious since I’m US born, have a Global Entry card, and have plenty of resources. However, it always gives me a tiny flavor of how one might feel when entering the country, even without the recent executive order.
The executive orders the White House released on Friday disgust me. By directly targeting productive American residents, children, and the elderly in the name of national security, they are cynical, illogical, immoral, and extremely insensitive. Under the executive order dual citizens are at risk of being unable to return if they so much as take a vacation or visit their extended family. The whole thing is antithetical to the values my parents brought me up with, and what I think it means to be an American.
Friends, such as Fred Wilson (Make America Hate Again) and Albert Wenger (Misleading the World on Immigration) have already spoken out. Many tech companies are making statements and, like Lyft giving $1 million to the ACLU, are taking action. Chris Sacca leads and gives $150,000 to the ACLU. Techstars has sent a message to the Techstars Worldwide Network with an offer of help to anyone in our worldwide network who is impacted.
Whatever intentions the White House had, these new rules will not protect American security, will not make us safer, and will cost us, both morally and economically. I recognize the need for border protection but this order goes too far and does more harm than good. I stand with tech leaders, like Reed Hastings and Drew Houston, in calling these restrictions unAmerican and immoral.
It’s time for us – our American tech and startup community from places like Boulder, Boise, Chattanooga, Omaha, and Anchorage – to stand up and call for the White House to change course. This is not ok.