They thought because they had money, they were better than everyone. Always rude, always mean, they carried themselves in such an arrogant manner it was nauseating. Then one day, they looked me dead in the eye and asked. Do you think you’re better than me? I replied, come on, you know me, I would never set my bar so low. Of course, I’m better than you.
There are those who believe themselves to be leaders but are too weak of character and too lazy to put the work in or acquire the knowledge required to be an effective leader. They boast and brag but remain in the background in times of adversity and struggle. They shield themselves at the expense of those around them looking to take credit for success but deflect responsibility for failure. These are not true leaders rather they are cowards. Their actions inspiring nothing more than contempt from those they are tasked with leading and their tenure is ultimately doomed to fail.
Peter Parker (Spider Man) is famous for saying with great power comes great responsibility. Real leaders understand this, they stand by their people. They do not look to point fingers as a way of absolving themselves. They understand they must be willing to stand up and accept criticism. They immerse themselves in the job and work tirelessly to acquire the knowledge that is essential to be a successful leader. They willingly listen to others and heed their advice. They lead by motivation not by fear, they inspire confidence by their actions. They understand that without these traits their leadership is simply an illusion based on nothing more than bravado and arrogance.
The time for these individuals is usually short and once their time has passed history will record that their tenure as a so-called leader was nothing but an illusion. Leaving them with nothing but time to wonder how they could have been a real leader rather than coward.
In many of the open America protest, it is not unusual to see signs saying or paraphrasing the familiar refrain:
“Give me liberty or give me death.”
But what many in this country have forgotten is liberty is not something granted to us at birth. Nor is it something that is maintained without a willingness to acquire the knowledge required to see its leaders’ real character and use that knowledge to hold them to a standard of accountability that is high, if not higher than they would have themselves.
It is true that even when the people have a desire to inform and educate themselves on the issues that impact their daily lives, an individual of poor character thrust into a position of leadership who lacks integrity and accountability and whose vision is only the advancement of their selfish agenda can through lies and misinformation blind the masses to the truth and in the process withhold the very liberty they seek to maintain
Unfortunately, America today has allowed our country’s polarization along political lines to supersede the thirst for knowledge. It has become all too easy for many of America’s so-called “leaders” to manipulate the masses. To have them bend to their will, wrongly believing that these leaders act in their best interest.
The open America protest is one such example. Through a campaign of misinformation and lies, leadership at the highest levels many have been led to believe that the very measures implemented to protect them are an infringement on their liberty. They rally around the same leaders who perpetrate the misinformation to advance their own economic and political agendas.
The dangers of not acquiring the knowledge required to identify one’s leaders’ character is not a new concept. John Adams warned us of it in 1765 when he said.
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of nature to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in van, has given them understanding and a desire to know. Still, besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to the most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.
We should heed his words, for it would be foolhardy to believe the concept of America is forever. Lest we forget that the history of the world shows our country is but a baby. One that will never get the chance to fully mature unless we cast aside our differences, stop allowing the few to manipulate the many, and come to value knowledge needed to educate ourselves on those would-be leaders of questionable character.
If we could get an e-mail from on high today, I imagine it would read something like this.
There has been some confusion of late, so I just wanted to check in to state what I thought with the intelligence I have blessed you with should be obvious but is not.
If you would see a child, one of my most vulnerable, go to sleep hungry or without a roof over their head simply because they were born into poverty or on the wrong side of an imaginary line you have drawn in the earth, you can not say you are one of my children. Suppose you would think to call yourself superior to another simply because of your skin color, ethnic background, religious group, or sexual orientation. In that case, you can not say you are one of my children. If you would protect the wealth of those with an abundance at the expense of providing the bare necessities to those without, you can not say you are one of my children. If you would look to harm or, worst, kill another using my name as your justification, you can not say you are one of my children. It is only in my children’s hearts that the concept of unconditional love and compassion resides. I hope that has cleared it up to you. You may carry on.
“We believe the additional year of maturity would be meaningful. And increasingly, I’ve been told by many NBA coaches that one of the issues with the younger guys coming into the league is they’ve never had an opportunity to lead. By having come directly out of their first year of college, those are the moments in their lives where…they were put in positions as upperclassmen, where they first learned how to lead teammates.”
– NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on raising the NBA minimum age
So what you’re saying, Mr. Silver, is that by staying an extra year on a college campus, these young men will be afforded the opportunity to remain in a nurturing environment which will allow them to grow mentally, build strong characters and facilitate their growth into leaders. Well, I can’t argue with that it sounds great except for this:
Ray Rice – Rutgers University 2005-2007
Greg Hardy – University of Mississippi 2006-2009
Hmmm, I guess their college experience didn’t help with that strong character thing.
You see, what Mr. Silver wanted to say was this.
We believe that an additional year of exposure at the college level would significantly improve the marketability of players eligible for the NBA draft, which will allow us to increase our revenue stream. After all, the NBA is a business just like the NFL and every other sports league, and at the end of the day, our bottom line is why we do what we do.
The concept that the mere act of going to college will ensure young male athletes will mature mentally, build strong characters, take responsibility for their actions, and become the leaders of tomorrow is no more real than believing that being elected to Congress would accomplish those same things. Sadly we have seen in both cases that’s not the case.
Going to college can and has played a critical role in the development of many young men. It provides them with an environment where they can develop their identity and internalize a personal set of beliefs and values absent from their family and childhood community’s external influences. However, in most cases, there will always be those who overcome; when this occurs in a positive fashion, there is more at play than just simply the act of stepping onto a college campus. Instead, it is the existence of a strong and healthy foundation established from early childhood that is in place. One that serves as a roadmap for young adults as they mature, adopt their belief systems, and increasingly begin to accept responsibility for their actions.
It is easy to look at those who do wrong and debate what form of punishment best suits their crime in society. But what is difficult is to look inward and find the root causes for the issues at hand, and until we do that, we will never advance as a society. What is clear is that we must endeavor to lay the proper foundation for our young men to grow and build on as a society. A large part of this is in teaching our young men how to respect women from the moment they can walk through our words and actions. The challenges to doing just that are many in today’s world. The number of young men being raised by single mothers is higher today than it has ever been, and while many of them are doing an excellent job, it does not negate the importance for young men to have positive male role models to look to. Pop culture and sports stars have long since abdicated that responsibility, not that they ever should have had it, which means that the burden falls on the men in the community to model proper behavior and respect toward women in their community at all times, to mentor young men on how to communicate their feelings without violence or threats and to be involved in their children’s lives, and not just through court-ordered child support payments, whether they are still involved with the child’s mother or not. An old African proverb popularized by a Hilary Clinton book in the 90s tells us that it “It takes a village to raise a child,” and never has that been more true than today with so many young men being raised without positive male influences in their lives and the constant sexual objectification of women they are overwhelmed with on television, social media and everyday life. The choice is ours. We can either start to lay the foundation for the next generation of young men or watch them continue down a path we know leads to their ultimate destruction.