RE:PRINT (WP): Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

Published in The Washington Post
March 29 at 8:21 PM

Tim Cook is chief executive of Apple.

There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.

These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.

America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.

I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.

I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn’t something that’s easy to oppose. It doesn’t always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us.

Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by “Whites Only” signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.

This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.

Common Sense Is a Gift

common-sense

At least once–if not several times–a week, I can still hear my father saying to me, “Kimberly, common sense is a gift.”  It was one of his most common sayings growing up.  When I was young, I didn’t understand what common sense was and asked him for an explanation.  “Common sense is knowing when to come in from the rain,” he replied.  I thought about his definition often.  As a little girl, I liked being in the rain on warm summer days wearing wellies–or better yet, being barefoot–and stomping in mud puddles.  Secretly I wondered whether I had common sense.

As I grew-up, I learned about common sense and witnessed the actions of those who didn’t have it.  Some examples were simple and harmless, such as not locking the doors of one’s house before leaving.  Other examples can be life threatening.  Say, for example, leaving a loaded firearm on a nightstand.  Common sense is supposed to be common, but many believe it is becoming rare in our society.  Perhaps its decline is a result of a generation of helicopter parents hovering over children or maybe it’s because we are engaging less with one another and more with tablets, smartphones and computers.  Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter.

The other weekend, as my husband and I were running errands, we pulled out of a shopping center parking lot, and observed a woman exiting PetSmart with a large Alaskan Malamute-like dog.  The dog easily weighed over 100 pounds.  And the dog was off-leash, trotting behind her.  As we drove away, I kept my eyes on her and her dog.  Waves of disbelief washed over me.  Oddly, no anger followed, only annoyance.

The woman, who used to be our neighbor, has two Alaskan Malamute-type dogs.  On the morning my water broke, before leaving for the hospital, my husband took Blue on a walk.  It was early, before 6 a.m., and quiet.  Her two dogs were off-leash in the neighborhood and attacked Blue, who was on leash.  Combined, her dogs outweigh Blue by at least 130 pounds.  They took turns attacking him.  She was unable to control her dogs and did nothing to stop them.  My husband defended Blue, but not before damage was done.

Upon return home, Blue was shaking, bleeding and seeking a corner in which to hide; my husband was frantic.  We called the Veterinary Specialty Hospital, loaded Blue in the truck, loaded our bags in the truck, and left.  He had to have surgery to reattach a part of his paw.  A traumatic morning for everyone.

Blue at home after surgery.
Blue at home after surgery.

I won’t bore readers with the minutiae of the remainder of the story.  Suffice it to say that when we spoke with the woman about paying for damages she said, “What am I supposed to do with [the dogs]?  No one is ever there that early; they are always off leash then.”  She reimbursed us for a portion of the bill, $2,000, and said she would pay us the rest, but never did.  Go figure.

I would have thought she would have learned from such an expensive experience.  She could have learned that dogs are unpredictable.  That leash laws protect all dogs.  That she is unable to control her large dogs.  That her dogs have a propensity to attack.  Etc.  But it’s evident she didn’t.

Common sense is a gift, indeed.

A Week in Review: Acknowledging Priorities

action-expresses-priorities

It’s Sunday evening.  Again.

I recall last Sunday evening with clarity.  After our daughter was bathed and put to bed, I gathered my thoughts for the week ahead.  I had plans.  Like many, my Mondays start with a lengthy to-do list of tasks to be accomplished.  I also set goals for work on various projects.  Given my circumstances, those goals were modest purposefully.  And, as is the case with goal setting, my goals–what I hoped to accomplish in a week’s time–reflected my priorities.   I wanted to review and edit a few chapters of my manuscript and I wanted to write a few posts about current events weighing on my mind.

I failed to accomplish either.

Fear not.  This is not a missive about how busy or unproductive I was last week.  To the contrary, I accomplished nearly every item on my to-do list.  I picked up my glasses, prepared for our meeting with our accountant, paid the cable bill . . . you get the picture.  I also partially reviewed and edited a few pages of my manuscript and I drafted several paragraphs for different posts.  Those meager accomplishments took five days to complete and left me feeling inadequate.  My failure to do what I wanted left me frustrated, distressed, annoyed, cranky, and disappointed.  At the end of each of those five days, I sat with my husband on our couch before going to bed with a proverbial cloud over my head.  Why was I unable to accomplish so very little?

Less than a year ago, I could do.  And did it well.  Making telephone calls, preparing e-mails, drafting and finalizing documents, and advising all were easily done.  Now I am unable to accomplish even a fraction of what I once did.  Today, a phone call involves a good deal of holding, bouncing and walking, and apologizing for my joyful noisemaker interrupting the conversation.  E-mails are scanned quickly and responses are left for when I have the time.  This shift in priorities is uncomfortable.  I know that every working mother has to make hard choices about what comes first–the job, family, paycheck, children, and/or spouse.  But I don’t work.

I am a mother.  No, it’s not a job.  Rather, it’s a relationship with my daughter.  Yes, it oftentimes feels like a job.  There are aspects of the relationship I’d prefer not to have to do, sometimes I feel un- or under-appreciated, and while I can commiserate with friends and family, no one knows exactly how I’m feeling or what I do all day.  At this stage, as it has been since she was in utero, our relationship is not one of give and take.  It is one where I provide for her needs and wants.  She uses my body, be it caressing my face to explore my mouth, eyes or nose, feeding from my breast, or pulling on me to stand up.  Of course, my daughter brings me indescribable joy.   But she needs to be cared for and comforted regardless of how I’ve slept or how I feel.  And this will be the case for years.

As I was wondering the source of my immense frustration, I came back to the one discomforting truth.  I’m selfish.  I desperately want time to pursue my interests.  I wanted to write a clever piece about  whether the narrative of Chris Kyle as an American hero was warranted or appropriate.  I wanted to question the wisdom of his judgment for bringing a Marine Corps veteran–one who had been in and out of the VA system for PTSD symptoms–to a shooting range.  Not only an unpopular opinion, but one that has been muted by the cheers of the “American Sniperpopular culture.  I wanted to let veterans know that they can–and should–reach out for help if suffering from similar troubles.  I wanted to calm the sea of voices who lifted one veteran up in worship while damning another.  Alas, the verdict was returned last Tuesday and the moment has passed.  I also wanted to write about the wisdom and importance of deconstructing Marie Harf’s “job for jihadis” argument.  After all, why are so many young men (and women) disaffected and seeking to be part of an organization that endorses killing, hatred and destruction as integral to its ideology?  Certainly a worthwhile inquiry given the state of the Middle East.  Perhaps President Obama was dumb like a fox when he stated that the war is not against Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world.  Indeed, we need not give those who hate us even more reason to do so.  But that moment also has passed.  Those words won’t be written.  My voice won’t join the discussion.  My thoughts won’t be heard.

That’s it, really.  I desperately want to be heard.  I want to have a voice.  I want to express my thoughts not as my daughter’s mother or as my husband’s wife, but as Kimberly.  Kimberly who attended law school.  Kimberly who worked as a professional for many years.  Kimberly who lived in New York City.  Kimberly who lived as an expatriate.  Kimberly who is a daughter, sister and aunt.  Kimberly who was single until her late 30s.  Kimberly who is married to loving, understanding, and patient man.  And, yes, Kimberly who is a mother.

Despite being dedicated to my relationships and the commitments I’ve made to nurturing them, I am troubled that my identity is becoming less relevant, if not irrelevant.  I acknowledge that my priorities have shifted dramatically.  I’m tickled that I am more curious about the safety records of select car seats and playground culture than the front page of the New York Times.  But I wonder who I am–now?  A woman who can’t be satisfied?  After all, it was a long road for us to welcome our daughter and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Why then am I struggling with my new role as a mother?

Last week, I told my Mother, a woman who raised four children, that I felt my identity was being overrun by motherhood.  With a gentle reproach she reminded me that I am growing, adjusting, and learning about the expectations and demands facing me as a caregiver.  She reminded me that my identity isn’t being replaced by my relationship with my daughter, but being enhanced by it.  She reminded me that I am still the same Kimberly with varied interests and opinions, but my priorities have shifted, for now.  She reminded me that my voice–a richer, deeper voice–will continue to be heard, whether it be today, tomorrow or next week.

It’s now Monday and I feel just fine.  Lesson learned.