Arno Hart took me aside in my first trade association meeting after I’d gone to work with my father. He said to me in his thick, German accented English, “Robert, I’ve known you all your life and I’ve known your father longer than you’ve been alive, and you’re going to have a hard time working for him. If I can be of help, let me know.” Thus began a 15 year dialogue with this man who had escaped the Nazis by the narrowest of margins.
One of the first things he said to me that stuck with me was, “I don’t have to apologize for the ground I stand on or the air I breathe.” Hitler had made it so Jews had no choice, they had no ground to stand on and even the air they breathed could be taken away on a whim of some sadistic person. Arno had made it to the U.S. through sheer determination and strength of will. He was never again going to apologize for being. After all, he said, as far as he knew he had not asked to be born.
We are each unique, unprecedented, never-to-be-repeated individuals. Each of us has something that the world needs right now. Where my great passion and the world’s great need intersect, there lies my right livelihood. What do I have to give? What do you have to give in the world’s time of great need? None of us has to apologize for being. Each of us is entitled to live fully but it is up to each of us to stand our ground and find our own place in the world for as long as we live.