What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Brexit

When Britain ended its economic ties with the European Union, I found myself unabashedly ill with rage. Why? Because I believe this decision was made without vision as to what the future of the UK will and should be. Severance was done without any regard for what consequences lie in wait. People were afraid of immigration and terrorism and convulsed in stupendous confusion by lashing out involuntarily at a symbol of internationalism: the EU. Leaving the EU was a nationalist, reactionary move made from fear, not a move following a thoughtful mission pursuing a clear vision, as demonstrated by the British public’s frantic Google searches asking “what is the EU” just hours after the vote was concluded. This is not to diminish the massive policy challenges that Britain faces from either immigration or terrorism, but rather to emphasize the massive economic and geopolitical ramifications of this sudden, ill-understood severance. What, for example, will become of Britain’s farmers who received £2.4 billion pounds in subsidies last year?  This should serve as a reminder of what may lie in wait for the U.S. electorate should it be swayed by similarly misguided rhetoric.

I think this move was made by people Steve Jobs would have described, as he did in his famous Stanford speech, as people whose values are “old and need to be washed away.” This has nothing to do with age. This has everything to do with vision. As Jobs goes on to describe, these conservative separatists are “trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” Populist conservatives and their followers are trapped by the rhetorical ignorance of nativism that plagued the 20th century repeatedly, and will follow us for the foreseeable future throughout the 21st. 

But what does this have to do with me? How does this play into my vision and my mission as a law student, as a writer, and as a United States citizen? 

My mission at this moment is to improve myself mentally, academically, and emotionally for the rigors of political life and change. My vision for the future is to help lead and inform a constituency of like-minded individuals into a future with dialogue, innovation, and equal opportunity for all.  When I leave law school and management school, I want to work for the State Department to gain experience with the realities of our international relations, using the skills I have gained to succeed there. After that work as a public servant, if I am so lucky, I would like the opportunity to serve as a policy-maker. I have a clear vision of what the future could be for me, and what I believe could bring about a better world for my country and humanity. I hope that by learning the realities of business and the law, by meeting more people who see that we must build coalitions among ourselves and other peoples, I can navigate the harsh realities with thoughtful mission to make it happen. 

Frankly, I cannot go quietly into a future knowing, as “Brexit” demonstrates, that it is still being so swayed by fear to accept ignorance of the negative externalities . It offends everything that previous generations have taught us through their follies and triumphs. World War I. World War II. The Holocaust. Genocide in Rwanda. Genocide in Bosnia. How can we face ISIS, those cowards and abusers of human dignity, when we still hold on to our unconscious reaction of “Let’s just think about us and forget our commitments to the rest of the world?”

We can’t. We simply cannot survive or afford to. That is why my mission is to become the best individual I can through my legal and management studies, so that I will be more capable to achieve whatever else we must to bring about our vision of a better world.

Steve Jobs wanted to make a dent in reality with his time here, and by all measures he did that with his all too brief time on this planet. One man was able to accomplish that through his intellect and courage to go forth purposefully. Imagine what we could all do, if we took that same Jobsian challenge together. What a wonderful world this could be. As Jobs said, “Remember we are all going to die, so we have nothing to lose.” So let’s give it shot and make a dent not for profit, not for fame, but for each other, for our kids, and for a better tomorrow.

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