Today, we had our annual kickoff for Optimizely.org ambassadors. This group, as a side project on top of our regular day-to-day work, is responsible for executing on the 1:1:1 idea, which is that, aligning with Salesforce’s goal of donating one percent of time, one percent of equity, and one percent of product, we will also do the same (is it any surprise that so many Optimizely employees came from Salesforce?). So I head up all volunteer and charity efforts in our New York City office. This will be my second year participating and being a leader as part of this effort.
We had our meeting today to introduce each other, since a lot of members are either new to Optimizely or new to the ambassadors group. One of the new members who is based in London is originally from Texas, hence his American accent. We had a round robin, and everyone had to say why they wanted to become an ambassador. This member said that having lived in the U.S. for most of his life and then moving to London, he finally realized all the things that the United Kingdom provides its citizens that the U.S. fails to in terms of general benefits, safety net, etc. He said he’d never really thought about it much until he moved to London and saw how much better taken care of its citizens were than where he grew up in Texas. But that general awareness, that knowledge that American society really doesn’t care about its citizens outside of lip service, made him want to actually get involved in charity work in London because he had never really done much of it while in the States. It’s almost as though he wanted to make up for the time he never gave while in the U.S.
I sat there during our Zoom video conference and just felt so frustrated. It had nothing to do with him; he’s doing great things getting involved. My annoyance stems from my general dissatisfaction of this country that I call home and its lack of safety net and assistance it gives to its citizens. When did a crappy $450/week unemployment check merit the equivalency of “living it up” according to right-wing conservatives who have zero desire to provide for anyone other than their grandchildren’s trust funds? Why are we so obsessed with capitalism and the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Why don’t we have universal healthcare, and why the hell should it be tied to having a job that provides it for you? That makes zero rational sense to me and never has. And if you have that experience of living abroad, of seeing that other nations will take better care of you because they view your life as important as a human being, why on earth would you ever want to come back to this place?
For my colleague who I mentioned here, it sounds like he never wants to come back. And I don’t blame him.