Apple President Tim Cook is Steve Jobs’ hand-picked successor. There were some who doubted he had the skills, the talents, to continue Apple’s innovation and success. The number of doubters has declined as Cook has settled in to the task. And while the Apple Watch hasn’t worked the kind of explosive change that the Apple iPhone has, Apple has continued to succeed and prosper. They aren’t perfect by any means, but Apple is far less imperfect than most.
And what Tim Cook has brought to Apple is something Steve Jobs, for all his talents, never did: a social conscience and a willingness to get out in front of the social issues of our time. And push.
Those additional talents were recognized on December 9, 2015 when Cook was awarded the Ripple of Hope Award at a benefit in New York for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. WC mentions this because Cook’s acceptance speech offered something more than the usual platitudes:
Today, more than half of the states in this country still don’t offer basic protections to gay or transgender people, leaving millions of people vulnerable to being fired or evicted because of who they are or who they love.
Today, some in our country would turn away innocent men, women and children seeking refuge, regardless of how many background checks they may submit to, simply based on where they were born. Victims of war and now victims of fear and misunderstanding.
Today, too many children are denied access to quality education simply because of the zip code they live in. They begin their lives facing strong headwinds and disadvantage they did nothing to deserve.
We can do better, Robert Kennedy would say, and because we can do better we must act. Act whenever we see injustice. Act whenever we can make a difference. Take a stand for what is right, for what is just, and that takes courage. It take tremendous courage to fight for what is just because often it means challenging the status quo. Often it means facing ridicule and sometimes much worse. But progress is defined by those brave enough or crazy enough to be different. Do we have that kind of courage? That was Robert Kennedy’s challenge to all of us.
I know I speak for the team at Apple when I say challenges like these are what inspires us. They do not daunt us. They do not deter us. Like Robert Kennedy we reject pessimism and cynicism. We see no contradiction between a hard-headed realism and and unshakeable idealism that says that anything is possible if we just get to work.
WC asks his readers to reflect on that last sentence: “We see no contradiction between a hard-headed realism and and unshakeable idealism that says that anything is possible if we just get to work.” It encapsulates part of WC’s world view and, WC hopes, yours, too. We live in difficult times. There are those who seek to profit by fear, by racism, by violence. Overcoming the effects of the demagogues and opportunists who seize on the worst of the American character will not be easy. But it is possible, if we just get to work at it. If America is or is to be exceptional, it in this quality that will make it so.