I have to share these two stories with you because they encapsulate just why “yes” is the word I’m embracing for 2018:
Bookstore employee writes this on Facebook after “little old lady” shocks everyone at the register with her kindness to a student
Entomologist Phil Torres goes to Mexico to record the Great Monarch Migration. “This is what it’s like to be surrounded by a million butterflies.”
I wrote this letter to Donald Trump. And then I sent it to every senator and congress person I admire and respect since I don’t have any voting representation as a D.C. resident. I figured it can’t hurt and it might help. I understand that this will likely fall on deaf ears. I write it not for any recognition but because I think we can and must do better than a wall and a 20% tax. Mexico is our dear friend, neighbor, and second largest trading partner. If this relationship falls apart, it could very well be a lynchpin to our economy and society. The consequences are literally painful to me, and I can’t just watch it happen without saying something, without trying to do something right now. I have too many friends living in Mexico and living here in the U.S. who are from Mexican descent. I posted this on Facebook and was roundly criticized for writing this letter by a few people. I stand by the suggestion that design thinking can save this relationship before it’s too late.
“Dear Mr. Trump,
As a fellow Penn alum, I’m hoping that I can help with the U.S. relationship with Mexico. I know that there are people who want you to build a wall, but I have a cheaper, more effective solution. I hope you’ll be open to hearing it.
What we need to do in Mexico, as in many areas of policy, is to discover root causes and treat them. Building a wall on the border with Mexico, while it may look like progress, is not. It is a bandaid that treats the symptom; what we need to do is work with Mexico to treat what’s ailing that nation and its economy.
As a business woman, product developer, and someone who believes and works in the design thinking space, what we need is a discovery process. Why are people from Mexico coming to the U.S. illegally? And then to go a step further, what would it take for them to want to stay in Mexico? That latter question is the difficult one to answer, but I promise you that it holds rich rewards. While we may assume that we know all of the answers to why people come to the U.S. illegally, I have often found that a design thinking project uncovers reasons we never even imagined were possible. The only way to get that learning is to sit down and listen to people. Ask open-ended and high-quality questions, and then let them tell you about their lives and what’s painful for them. Then, heal those pain points through collaborative efforts.
In this case with Mexico, we’d not only save money and develop a better solution, we’d also improve the lives of countless people. And isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all want a world that’s peaceful and prosperous? Don’t we all want to leave this planet a better place than we found it? Isn’t that the very basis of humanity and the purpose of life? I’d like to think that you share this belief, and that your advisors do as well. I can help.
I’ll make you a deal. I’ll do this project for free. I don’t need a dime. I’ll donate all my time, efforts, and talents. I’ll quit my job tomorrow and do this if given the chance.
Thanks for your consideration,
El Dia de los Muertos, a significant holiday for Mexico, begins today. The Day of the Dead is a celebration steeped in history. People who celebrate it construct altars to make offerings to their loved ones who have passed on. (This photo was taken at a cemetery celebration in Mexico.) As someone who believes that death is a crossing over to the other side and not a permanent loss, this holiday has always resonated with me. One year I’d love to go to Mexico to see it in action. For now, I celebrate it from afar.
Today take some time to remember those who have started the next leg of their journey and will show us the way when our time arrives.