WHY ENTREPRENEURS NEED TO SHOW UP
How to use your voice and have an impact when it really matters!
When I was a young student I worked for the Jewish Social Work in Amsterdam. Twice a week I cleaned the houses of Jewish clients. Somewhere between cleaning the bedrooms and the kitchen, there was always time for coffee and conversation.
‘My’ family was an elderly couple. They lived in the same apartment where they had raised their family. Nowadays the children lived somewhere else and it was just the two of them.
One day, it was Friday, the chicken soup was already on the stove, the children would come home to be with their parents for the Friday evening Shabbat dinner, something happened that I will never forget.
It was time for coffee. There was a carpenter in the apartment - the door needed to be fixed - and his tools were everywhere. While we had our coffee the carpenter apologized for the mess he made. He was trying to get everything done before Shabbat.
“I’m sorry for the mess”, the carpenter said. “Oh don’t worry about it”, my employer said. He was standing in the middle of their small living room and pointed at his underarm. “After THIS I learned to never worry about the small stuff anymore.”
He pointed at the tattooed figures on his arm.
His concentration camp numbers.
You could see the uneven shapes. Yanked into the arm of a young man. A young man who happened to be Jewish.
The carpenter mumbled something like: “Yes… well”, and we looked at each other because those numbers opened the door to more suffering than we could possibly imagine.
My employer carried a very public testimonial of the vilest hate against himself on his own body. For everyone to see.
Look. This happened to me.
The silence hung heavy in the living room.
I was a 23 years old smart-ass student and had no answer.
I had no solution, it felt too big, too painful, too intimate and I didn't know what to to do.
This week it was 75 years ago that Soviet soldiers liberated concentration camp Auschwitz. One of the camps where over 6 million people were murdered because they happened to be ‘different’.
Because they were Jewish, or Roma or Sinti, or mentally ill, or handicapped, or gay, or communist, or a fighter for justice …. Cold and systematically killed, tortured and starved because they were not fitting the ‘Purebred White Ubermensch’ norm.
This week I watched an interview with one of the Soviet soldiers who had helped liberate Auschwitz. Liberating was the easy part: “We just shot the guards and opened the gates”. But what he could never forget was "the mountain of children shoes in front of the ovens"
A mountain of 10 meters wide and 5 meters high. Only children's shoes.
The Footprints for hope Project
HOW CAN WE HELP?
I’m sharing this with you because these stories matter. Because we have to keep sharing those stories.
And because as entrepreneurs, we can make a difference.
Excluding groups of people is not something of the past. Antisemitism is not something of the past. Scapegoating people is not something of the past.
It's happening everywhere. All the time. I don't know about you but so often it feels too much, too large and - like that 23-years old student in that living room in Amsterdam - we have no words, we just feel sad, overwhelmed and lost.
And we think: "What can I do?"
This is what you can do!
We entrepreneurs can make a difference! All you need to do is celebrate our differences. We have the freedom to speak up, to show up and to celebrate that ‘not fitting the norm’ is what makes us beautiful and strong.
You have a voice. You can have impact. Use it!
And also Don't worry about the small stuff. Instead, be grateful for the small stuff.
Celebrate who you are, hug your loved ones, open your mind to different cultures. Be really, really inclusive. Be curious. That's how you can change the world.
Dear friend, I don't know where you're from, I don't know the suffering your family has gone through or the hardship you are going through right now.
I just want to let you know that you mean the world to me.
Because you are absolutely perfect just as you are.
With all my love,
Esther de Charon de Saint Germain
Brave Branding and Business Queen