Los peligros de la única historia

“Una única historia crea estereotipos. Y el problema de los estereotipos no es que sean falsos, es que son incompletos.” ¡Qué razón tiene Chimamanda Adichie! Estamos rodeados de únicas historias. Son fáciles, cómodas. En un mundo complejo, la complejidad es costosa. Pero la reducción nos lleva a visiones incompletas. Y peligrosas.

Chimamanda Adichie es una escritora africana de éxito. Una mujer nigeriana que ha vivido en su piel como una única historia sobre África determina la visión que tiene la gente de ella sin apenas conocerla. “Mi compañera de habitación en la universidad norteamericana sentía pena por mi antes de conocerme”. ¿Cuántos ámbitos de nuestra vida están regidos por únicas historias que determinan la interpretación de lo que nos rodea? Demasiados.

La comunicación tiene mucho de eso. Intentar contar únicas historias, que sean fáciles de consumir y de digerir. De pasar realidades complejas, llenas de matices, de grises, por un colador chino para dejar una única historia sin impurezas. Agradable al paladar, pero sin explosión de sabores.

Adichie da en el clavo. No solo la única historia nos pone en guardia. No solo esa única historia nos predispone a entender, abrazar, denostar u odiar un concepto, un país, una idea, una persona; el orden de la historia también nos marca el camino.

Así, juntando el orden y la historia, podemos comprender la debilidad de muchos argumentos. Podemos entender porque hay sacrificios que se hacen sin chistar y otros que encienden la indignación popular. Porque aceptamos, sin más, nuevo lenguaje como “copago”. O porque los discursos xenófobos sobre la inmigración, como el que representa el Partido Popular con Albiol a la cabeza, son aceptados con un espeso silencio.

No hay nunca una única historia. Y tenerlas todas, como dice Adichie, sería el paraíso.

Cambiando el mundo con Change.org

No es solo una crisis económica. Estamos viviendo una crisis mucho más profunda. Lo demuestra el hecho de que la confianza en las instituciones políticas, los medios de comunicación o el sistema financiero, cotice a la baja. Es una crisis muy profunda. Buscamos una salida. Especialmente con lo nuevo.

Los valientes, emprenden. Algunos alcanzan el éxito pese a la maldita crisis. Y no hablo solo de negocios. Hablo de aquellos que no se quedan de brazos cruzados y buscan una vía alternativa para solucionar aquello que les rodea y que no les gusta. Hablo de las personas –muchas- que quieren cambiar el mundo. Hablo de Actuable, de Change.org. Hablo de la gente que no se queda quieta y que pide cambio.

Actuable tiene historias en su haber de cambios conseguidos por la unión de miles de personas. No sé si el lazo será débil o fuerte, por citar a Gladwell, pero la realidad es que cuando miles de personas se unen para defender una causa justa, el cambio llega a barrios, ciudades y países. Que se lo digan a Antonio. Que se lo digan a Alicia.

Hace pocas semanas, durante el primer aniversario de Actuable, Francisco Polo anunció la unión con Change.org. La suma de dos plataformas de activismo online punteras para crear la mayor plataforma del mundo. Change.org tendrá un papel fundamental en España para conseguir cambios y luchar contra las injusticias.

Tengo el honor de ser el director de comunicación para España de Change.org. Trabajar para hacer de la comunicación una palanca para el cambio social. Me entusiasma poder unir mis dos grandes pasiones, la política y la comunicación, en esta nueva etapa profesional. Trabajar para provocar cambios en cualquier lugar, en cualquier momento.

El tamaño importa

Parece que el tamaño importa. En las nubes de tags, sin ir más lejos, donde la repetición de un concepto hace crecer su cuerpo. Si una idea tiene más o menos peso según su tamaño, las prioridades del Partido Popular quedan claras: mucho empleo y poca educación.

La realidad es tan compleja que necesitamos representarla para entenderla. Por eso las infografías son tan útiles. Representan temas complejos de manera que podamos entenderlo observando, por ejemplo, un gráfico. La representación nos ayuda a comprender. Y no es un arte fácil. Para muestra, el vídeo de la reciente convención del Partido Popular en Málaga.

En apenas un minuto, 15 personas -5 hombres y 10 mujeres- sostienen 13 mensajes en unas cartulinas. Los 13 mensajes del Partido Popular en esta precampaña. Empleo, pensiones, educación, administración, vivienda, la clase política… los temas se suceden mientras esas 15 personas levantan sus carteles.

Un vídeo de estas características es lo más parecido a una infografía en movimiento. A querer poner carne y hueso a los grupos target a los que se dirige una campaña. Y a querer poner por escrito las propuestas que deben hacer la diferencia con los competidores.

Y ahí es donde volvemos al tamaño. Esa infografía en movimiento no da a todos los mensajes la misma importancia según el tamaño. Si identificamos lo grande como lo más importante, la prioridad del Partido Popular es el empleo -que tiene tres mensajes con carteles muy grandes- y lo menos importante, la educación o que los políticos no engañen, ambos con carteles pequeños. Si el tamaño importa, quedan claros los temas que importan -y los que no- para el Partido Popular.

El discurso de Steve Jobs en Stanford

Encendió la mecha y Youtube hizo el resto. Steve Jobs dirigió a los estudiantes de Stanford un sabio discurso que ha pasado de clic en clic a inspirar a millones de personas en todo el mundo. Sin ir más lejos, esta semana lo han visto más de 8 millones de personas tras la muerte del fundador de Apple.

«You’ve got to find what you love»

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: «We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?» They said: «Of course.» My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

«You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.»

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

«Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.»

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

«I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.»

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: «If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.» It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: «If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?» And whenever the answer has been «No» for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

«Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.»

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

«Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.»

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

«Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.»

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: «Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.» It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

El discurso de dimisión de Richard Nixon

A las 21:01 del 8 de agosto de 1974, Richard Nixon entraba en los hogares de millones de estadounidenses. Y el mundo entero observaba como cerraba un capítulo para abrir otro. Desde el Despacho Oval, anunciaba su dimisión. La primera de un presidente en la historia de Estados Unidos en 198 años de historia. Y la única hasta nuestros días. Mañana se cumplirán 37 años del inicio del juicio por el caso que llevó a Nixon a su particular caída del Olimpo.

 

«Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow»

«Good evening.

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

«I have never been a quitter»

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.

As I recall the high hopes for America with which we began this second term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 21/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Vice President Ford, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands.

In passing this office to the Vice President, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Americans.

As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.

By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my Judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.

«We have ended America’s longest war, but in the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult.«

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new President succeed for the benefit of all Americans.

I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your President for the past 51/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Congress, and the people.

But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Congress and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.

We have ended America’s longest war, but in the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Americans, by the people of all nations, not only that we ended one war but that we prevented future wars.

We have unlocked the doors that for a quarter of a century stood between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

We must now ensure that the one quarter of the world’s people who live in the People’s Republic of China will be and remain not our enemies but our friends.

In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.

Together with the Soviet Union we have made the crucial breakthroughs that have begun the process of limiting nuclear arms. But we must set as our goal not just limiting but reducing and finally destroying these terrible weapons so that they cannot destroy civilization and so that the threat of nuclear war will no longer hang over the world and the people.

We have opened the new relation with the Soviet Union. We must continue to develop and expand that new relationship so that the two strongest nations of the world will live together in cooperation rather than confrontation.

Around the world, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East, there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this earth can at last look forward in their children’s time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.

Here in America, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world’s standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal of not only more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every American and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.

For more than a quarter of a century in public life I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.

«There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.»

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, «whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.»

I pledge to you tonight that as long as I have a breath of life in my body, I shall continue in that spirit. I shall continue to work for the great causes to which I have been dedicated throughout my years as a Congressman, a Senator, a Vice President, and President, the cause of peace not just for America but among all nations, prosperity, justice, and opportunity for all of our people.

There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.

When I first took the oath of office as President 51/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to «consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations.»

I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of America but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.

This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Presidency. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Presidency.

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.»