This is a remarkable moment…
There aren’t many such moments. When Walter Cronkite gave his famous Vietnam assessment, on Febraury 27, 1968, it changed the viewpoint of many. He ended with these words:
To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations.
But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
There are many that argue that that was the most important “let’s get honest” moment of them all. From the NPR segment:
When President Lyndon Johnson saw that newscast, he turned to his press secretary, George Christian, and famously said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country.”
I think another such moment occurred yesterday.
The most valuable company in the world is Apple. Tim Cook, the CEO who replaced the late and legendary Steve Jobs, has led the company in ways that have increased its value. But yesterday, he wrote a very personal coming out statement which Bloomberg Businessweek published. Please read the entire statement: Tim Cook Speaks Up. Here are key excerpts:
At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.
For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
The world has changed so much since I was a kid….
When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.
In his article, he observes that there are states where discrimination against people for their sexual orientation is still too alive and well. And he stated:
I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
Later in the day, a reaction from Russia kind of reinforced his point:
Vitaly Milonov, of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg, had this to say: “What could he (Cook) bring us? The Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea? They all have unseemly ties over there … Ban him for life.”
Now and forever, we know that at this moment in history, the CEO of Apple announced the news that he is gay. He has told the world.
The implications are many. But an obvious one is this—maybe we will reach that magic moment when we will all be judged by our competence and abilities, and the “content of our character,” rather that our color, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation, our religion.
Apparently it was a very open secret – that Tim Cook is gay. Now, it is no longer any kind of secret. There are other CEOs who are gay who have not yet revealed that fact. But now, one very prominent one has. This is quite a moment.
Please read Tim Cook’s full article. It is worthy of our full attention.