12.10.2020
2020 Ripple of Hope Award: Dan Schulman’s Remarks

Hi, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with all of you, even in this strange, virtual setting. This honor means so much to me and I’d like to thank Kerry Kennedy and the RFK Human Rights team. You inspire all of us to make a difference and to send out a ripple of hope across our moral universe. 

I want to thank my family and my two favorite kids, Molly and Jake, who I love so much, and all my friends for being here. But I’d especially like to say thanks to my mom and my dad, who taught me early on that it’s not so much what we say but what we do that makes a real difference in our world. And I’m humbled to be honored with my fellow Ripple of Hope honorees, Colin, who I hope is also not wearing a tie and a jacket, Dolores, Dan, and Dr. Fauci. They each know firsthand the courage that is needed to take a stand—and the consequences. 

Many of us have experienced hate mail and even death threats because we stood up and boldly advocated for what we thought was right, even in the midst of today’s charged political environment. I’ve always held up Bobby Kennedy as one of my heroes. He must have known all too well that his push for civil rights and social justice could put him in harm’s way and yet he still forged forward. The clarity of his vision and his personal courage remain an inspiration for all of us. The poet William Yeats famously said that “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,” and that certainly resonated with me this year. But in the midst of all that turmoil, we saw people from all walks of life standing up for what they believe in and demanding social justice, marching in the streets, and going to polls to demand more of our country so that it remains a beacon of hope as an inclusive, diverse, progressive, and enlightened democracy. We live in a culturally charged world, where even listening to an opposing point of view can be seen as treasonous. But this is the time we live in and I feel deeply that I have an obligation to create a more just world. Our democracy relies on each of us rising above our own self-interest to create a better system for everyone. Democracy has always needed to be more than two wolves and one lamb voting on what to have for dinner. But how can we expect anyone to rise above their own personal interest when they struggle to make ends meet every month? When they need to choose between health care benefits or putting food on the table for their families? 185 million adults, or two-thirds of Americans, face this struggle every month through no fault of their own. I believe that those of us in positions of power have an obligation to support our fellow Americans. Simply put, CEOs must start by taking care of their employees. We need to say, out loud, that our companies have a purpose that goes well beyond just profit and we need to take action. Our employees’ well-being is our responsibility. Financial health needs to be a right for all people—not just the privileged, for the wealthy. Every business needs to recognize that it is part of a broader community. Leaders in the private sector cannot stand by and hope that our government will solve all the issues we face as a nation. A strong, inclusive economy and a strong democracy are foundational for our long-term success as a country and we have a crucial role to play in making that happen. That is why this year PayPal committed $530 million to fight systemic racism over the long run and to do our part to reduce the racial wealth gap. It is why we consistently stand up against hatred and violence by removing white supremacists and other hate groups from our platform. It’s why we withdrew from North Carolina after they passed the so-called “Bathroom Bill” because it had the potential to discriminate against an individual based on their sexual identity or sexual orientation. And it’s why we will continue to act on our values. 

We should expect, and even demand, that leaders in both the private and public sectors address the inequalities in our system and be part of the fight for a more inclusive and equitable future. This honor inspires me to continue our work and I am more convinced than ever that all of us can be a force for meaningful change. Thank you again for this recognition.

Contact

Minhee Cho
Media Relations Associate
mcho@rfkhumanrights.org

Dan Schulman’s 2020 Ripple of Hope Remarks