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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Aetna Has a Superhero at the Helm

When I was a little girl I loved comic books. Growing up poor is not easy. I needed to believe in superheroes. The idea of powerful people, like Bruce Wayne, using their wealth and influence to help mankind was a great source of comfort to me.

In the last few years I have become despondent while reading stories about CEOs who make millions while laying off American workers. My heart breaks while reading about their decisions to pay hard working people of other nations “salaries” that would be illegal here. It has been so hard for me to understand why these CEOs have aspired to have so much. For me the only reason to want power, is to share power. The only reason to accumulate wealth is to use that wealth to create more opportunities and wealth for others. The troubles with our economy are not stemming from a lack of desire on the part of Americans to participate in our creative and industrious culture. The trouble with our economy is directly related to a shortage of powerful people with the desire to be heroes to their fellow man.

Then I read about Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna. He personally responded to tweets from a 30 year old named Arijit Guha who was battling stage IV colon cancer and staggering medical bills. Bertolini promised to pay every last penny of Guha’s bills.

Aetna has a Superhero at the helm. Superheroes know money isn’t wealth unless you share it. Power is pointless if you only use it to protect yourself.

Bertolini has always been a superhero. He began his career began as a paramedic. When his son was diagnosed with life threatening lymphoma, he gave his son his kidney. He became a powerful CEO and now, when a stranger named Arijit Guha went on Twitter demanding to know how he was expected to live a productive life under a mountain of medical bills, Bertolini responded immediately and moved the mountain.

Now Guha, a sustainability PHD student, can focus more on his life and career. He can put his full energy toward using his cheerful, creative and intelligent mind to help solve some of Earth’s most pressing problems. Who knows how many lives he will save. The concentric circles of healing that will radiate outward from Bertolini’s compassion and Guha’s boldness will be long lasting and immeasurable and good for all mankind.

My hope is that other CEOs will hear about what Aetna’s top man is doing and want to compete with Bertolini’s impenetrable goodness. I hope a new kind of competitive, capitalist envy evolves and motivates our corporate leaders to prove that they are fearlessly good and powerful too! I want them to inspire us by destroying unjust situations and shocking us with how incredibly kind they can be to humanity.

Today in America, a superhero saved me by putting my heart back together with a simple tweet. Thank you, Mark Bertolini for making my childhood dream come true.

Follow Mark Bertolini on Twitter: @mtbert
Follow Arijit Guha on Twitter: @poop_strong