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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

A Great Week for America

This has been a very good week for America – a week in which the rights and dignity of all people have been upheld.

In just a week, what progress we have made! Recall:

  • The Supreme Court upheld the legal right of all people to marriage, overcoming centuries of discrimination against same sex couples.
  • The Court also affirmed the Affordable Care Act that offers health care to most Americans – ensuring the millions now covered by health insurance will continue to receive coverage.
  • Republican leaders in the Senate and House worked with President Obama to give the president the ability to ratify free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • The President spoke for all Americans as he preached on grace, then captured a unifying moment in Charleston and across the country as he sang “Amazing Grace” at Emanuel AME church.
  • Americans banded together to ask that the Confederate flag be taken down – 150 years after the end of the Civil War.
  • The Gates Foundation announced it will invest $2 billion in breakthrough renewable energy projects.

For socially progressive, fiscally conservative people like myself, these are signs of genuine progress that our country is getting back on the right track, attempting to heal some of our historic wounds and bring the country together, so we can focus on growth and opportunities for all Americans to live healthy and prosperous lives.

In each case, leaders made the difference by acting with courage and listening to their conscience. Kudos to:

  • Justice Anthony Kennedy who wrote the majority opinion on marriage equality.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act.
  • Speaker John Boehner, Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Obama for uniting forces against the Democrats and labor unions to bring the benefits of free trade to all Americans.
  • South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, four living former South Carolina governors, and the South Carolina congressional delegation who unified to urge the Confederate flag be removed from the South Carolina statehouse.
  • Bill Gates for his focused philanthropy and for encouraging others to join him and Warren Buffett in The Giving Pledge to give away 50% or more of their net worth.

It is pioneering leaders like these and many others who are making the difference in our country, in large ways and small.

Finally, on a personal note, at a gathering in Minneapolis, Hillary Clinton praised the George Family Foundation for the work of its Catalyst Initiative to address “toxic stress” in underprivileged communities through mind-body approaches to health. My wife Penny George’s visionary leadership in integrative health is enabling people to achieve health in mind, body, and spirit. Penny continues to inspire and amaze me.