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MATT KERBEL – Los Angeles
We don’t usually get political at The Coost. We are a website highlighting what we think is good, be that a piece of art, a person, an act, a place of the world. We see ourselves as a showcase for genuine positivity. And given the events of this week, many people could use some genuine positivity. So here we are…
Last night, I was on campus at UCLA. I went because, this year, I have decided to become an Alumni Mentor for two hopeful students who were bold enough to reach out and ask for mentorship. Rather than heading home after work, I headed straight to UCLA and, with time to spare, I took a walk around the campus. I put my headphones in, turned on some relaxing music, and proceeded to observe the incredible students all around me.
What I saw was amazing. There were a couple of students that were practicing dance moves, which assuredly they’ll present to an audience and show themselves what they didn’t realize they were capable of. I saw a group of students of different cultures and backgrounds sitting on the grass, in a circle, talking about a major initiative they were working on for campus. I overheard the banging drums of the marching band practice, and how the rattle of many sounded proudly as one. I saw a couple lying on the hill, looking up at the sky, relaxed and certainly taking in a special moment, contemplating their future like many in this country but seeking to be in that very moment with one another. I saw athletes running together, and also individually, pushing themselves to master their craft. And then, I attended the event I had come for, and saw thousands of students seeking to be the best them they could be, but tapping into the wisdom of others who were willing.
It was a meditative sort of experience. I had a lot of time to think about what to do next. Where things go from here. To this point in our lives, we have accomplished everything on our to-do list of life to get us to this point, wherever that is. Nothing has stopped us, and we’ve overcome incredible obstacles. We have latched on to one another, or met new and incredible people who have made an impact on our lives. When the front door is locked, we go through the back. And when that’s not available, you go through the chimney, so-to-speak. There is an immeasurable bias-for-action in the nation.
While there is a lot of confusion, anger, and hatred going on right now, anchored on 18 months of contention and a historic climax, it’s important that we do not lose sight of a few things:
- What this country has been through, and who it’s been up against – we will get through this together, it’s in our DNA.
- We have half of a country that was feeling pain enough to vote for Trump. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, showed a chart of job growth over the past eight years, and while the middle class has flourished under Obama, the less educated working class had seen a -13% decline in jobs over that period. Certainly, there is an element of xenophobia, racism, and sexism, but that’s also certainly not the entire story. People want real change, and viewed Hillary as a less trustworthy four or eight more years of Obama.
- We can use this opportunity to come closer together, to help others we may have not thought to help before, or have wanted to but hadn’t gotten around to. From these defining moments often come action, so let that be the case here.
I will never, ever say that I think Trump is respectable as a human. However, I recognize that there are two likely outcomes: Either it has been all talk, and he leverages his 50+ years in business to shock us, affect some positive change, and is, in fact, our president for eight, not four, years. Or, he temporarily sets this country back, thereby causing other amazing individuals to rise up in the next three years. If he is awful, then it will – if nothing else – expose the type of America we don’t want, and help identify the type of America we do truly want, but hadn’t been getting because the status quo for many was just fine and ho-hum. I sincerely hope that in the long run, Trump leads to a better America, not a worse one, even if the short-term is painful (and it is).
Now is the time to be inquisitive (don’t deride Trump supporters, but try to come to understand their motivations because they live in the same country as we do, with the same liberties), and take action (expressing feelings is very important, and we should do that because it’s healthy, but action speaks louder than words). This event should shock us into becoming closer with our family, with our friends, and to help others more in need. Aaron Sorkin said it well to his daughters in a letter he wrote, saying that while their family was generally protected from a Trump presidency, many others are not, and that they’ll need our support.
No matter how small or big, everything we do is meaningful. No one person should rock your world, unless than one person is you. If no one reads this, then I will at least have, and it will remind me that I can always take action to be the best me I can be, and that comes – in more than any other way – by helping those around me be the best them they can be. Just like I’ll try to do for my new mentees.
Love y’all, and bless this country. Stronger together has never rung more true.
Matt Kerbel is the Los Angeles Marketing Lead for Lyft and graduated with an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He lives in Los Angeles with wife Ashley and a first-born on the way.