Posted by: morgan1965 | August 22, 2017

Leaders and the Moral High Ground

Race has been at center stage of American life from the embryonic emergence of the original thirteen colonies, and the fruition of the 50 states which constitute the United States. The Colonial States embraced slavery which subsequently was replaced by various forms of racism – Jim Crow laws, segregation, lynching, and various forms of discrimination.

W.E.B. DuBois made a cogent observation in his book, “The Souls of Black Folk,”originally published in 1903. DuBois said: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War…” The recent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia centered on the proposed removal of a General Robrt E. Lee statue from a city park. America again witnessed public expressions of racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Such atrocities cannot be tolerated or condoned in any manner or at any time in this nation.

The news media made America aware of the deadly violence that erupted at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, August 11, 2017. In the aftermath, President Trump seemed to draw an equivalence between white nationalist groups and the people protesting in support of equality. President Trump cast blame for the violence on “many sides” and “both sides.” He defended the racist demonstrators, some of whom waved Nazi flags and burned torches. There was a prominent display of hate as reflected in the shouted racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

Many Americans have concluded that the moral failure of our president in response to the Charlottesville event deserves comment. The question has been raised about the integrity of his “moral compass.” There is an expectation that the POTUS will exert moral leadership in times like this, and in times of crisis. It is one’s moral compass, then, that should provide guidance to one’s leadership.

In the aftermath of the Charlotte event, where do we go from here? Many political and religious leaders have urged the POTUS to condemn racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy in clear and unequivocal terms. Such a condemnation would indicate a national direction that does not accept or tolerate these atrocities.

Just what is a moral compass? A moral compass can be defined as “an internalized set of values and objectives that guide a person with regard to ethical behavior and decision-making.” The moral compass is informed by the values and moral standards that are instilled in a person by parents, family, church, community, and school. These values are further informed by one’s cross-cultural experiences and international experiences.

There are examples of previous presidents who exemplified moral leadership in a time of crisis. One such example is the Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln was attempting to hold the nation together and to lead the nation toward unification and peace.

From a Christian perspective, the moral compass is Jesus, “the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and pilgrim disciples follow that light. In navigational terms, Jesus is “true north.”

The nation is always in need of moral leaders, both political and religious. When Bayard Rustin introduced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washing as he prepared to give the historic “I have a Dream” speech, he presented him as “the moral leader of our nation.” King’s moral compass was Jesus and his navigational tools were love and nonviolence. He was the moral leader of the civil rights movement.

Who are our moral leaders today – community, state, nation, and world? This is an important question to ponder. To be sure, this is a time for deep personal reflection on the part of all people of faith.  This is a time for neighbors to engage in conversation about racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. This is a time for ministers to lead their congregations in meaningful prayer and worship. This is a time to seek the moral high ground and take a stand for justice, righteousness and peace.

In brotherhood and sisterhood, let us lift up the name of Jesus who is the way (the way, the truth and the life) to higher ground. Let us remember too that in matters of moral leadership, the POTUS only holds penultimate status. Jesus Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the ultimate moral high ground, the solid rock.

Think about it!






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