The Innovator’s Dilemma for America, part two
On June 21, 1989, a mortar shell crashed onto the fourth-floor balcony of a Beirut apartment building, exploding and destroying everything around it. My bed, my precious Technics turntable and Commodore computer, my cherished collection of The Economist that I had been reading since I was 13, and everything else in my bedroom was destroyed in the blast.
Thankfully, my family and I had taken refuge in a makeshift shelter in the underground parking garage of our building. The whole neighborhood was hunkered down there in the garage, which had become a giant campground with mattresses strewn about, cushioning the cold concrete floor.
The civil war in Lebanon had just opened a new chapter in its 14-year history, a chapter of intense fighting, destruction, and sorrow. But life had not always been so dramatic. There were times when life seemed almost normal. We went to school, our parents went to work. Electronic and house music was in its infancy, and I had a weekly DJ gig each Tuesday and Thursday night at the RML FM radio station in Achrafieh, Beirut. Life was happening. But then there were times of tumult, all culminating with the bombing of our home. A few months later, I boarded a flight to Paris, alone, leaving my family (who were relocating to Cyprus) and everything I had ever known behind in search of a brighter and less volatile future. I was 17.
Having grown up in the midst of a civil war, where people were killed because of their religion or ethnicity, and being an immigrant ever since I left Beirut, I have a deep appreciation of the refugee, immigrant, and minority experience. The basic instinct to seek a better, safer life resonates tremendously with me, and the immigration crackdowns persisting in the headlines these days continue to shake loose a lot of memories of my Beirut youth, and my experience as an immigrant in the years since. It’s drudging up memories of experiences that I know many people are currently struggling through the world over.
But if there’s one thing my tempestuous homeland taught me, it’s that refugees and immigrants are a strong, determined, persevering, and innovative community. And I think that supporting their journey is not only the right thing to do, ethically, but it’s also the smart thing to do, economically…