Leadership is critical in tackling racism
The virus of racism has infected just about every society on earth in one form or another, and countless wars have yet to eliminate the disease, which has managed to remain alive despite the efforts of courageous people of all races.
It should be deeply troubling for every peace-loving citizen when any leader sends signals that could encourage those obsessed with the belief that they are superior based purely on race when nothing could be farther from the truth.
The world has many wonderful souls of all races, with different religious or cultural backgrounds, who are dedicated to values that protect and provide a decent atmosphere of respect and freedom. They know this is the only way the people on this planet will be able to take advantage of the wonders it offers.
Unlike the flu shots that protect against a virus that can be deadly, the racism virus requires far more than a shot in the arm because the problem runs deeper than a physical threat to the body. The racism virus usually finds its way inside the soul and heart of the victim, and when this happens, others are at risk from those who no longer cherish or respect values entitled to every human being.
There is no magic cure for racism, which is a sad part of life. However, as long as there are people who refuse to accept any type of ideology or doctrine that stipulates that objectors should be eliminated, there is hope that one day — while things will never be perfect — the world will move to a brighter day of a more harmonious, global environment where people of all races are accepted for their values and abilities to contribute to a higher quality of life.
Bermuda is not without its social divisiveness, which continues despite great strides over the years to heal and to rectify social injustices of the past that found their root in the era of slavery. However, many of us who have seen dramatic changes over many decades know that beneath the surface of progress there remain negative attitudes that prolong division throughout much of community life.
This is why it is important that leadership remains focused on saying and doing things that invite a more inclusive society. There are challenges here because negative attitudes are not erased overnight. However, the effort to erase them must never cease.
A lesson for the world in tackling racism was the attitude that the great champion of human rights Nelson Mandela exhibited when he emerged from imprisonment over his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. Many thought he would be full of hatred and a thirst for revenge, but instead he walked into the sunlight with his focus on changing the mindset of those who had tried to extinguish his spirit in seeking freedom for the African people.
Mandela displayed such dignity and strength that he was able to break through the dark cloud of injustice and become that nation’s first black president. It was the quality of his leadership that startled his former political enemies, and captured the hearts of people around the world.
As the world watches the new administration under Donald Trump, and his reluctance totally to reject hate groups that are seemingly intent on some type of civil war against those outside their racial domain, there is growing concern throughout many areas of the United States that there is a serious leadership issue. Negative messages are fanning the flames of bigotry and preventing the country from growing in the right direction.
Most Americans seem increasingly disturbed that their leader behaves in a way as though he is untouchable by any authority, including the law. We all know that no leader is above the law in any country that operates along democratic principles.
With momentum picking up in investigations into whether some members of the Trump campaign were in collusion with Russia before the presidential election last November, the special consul Robert Mueller is moving to place a number of people before a Grand Jury in his quest to get at the truth. It is an open question as to what consequences this could have on the administration and, indeed, the presidency itself. With the White House reaction to Charlottesville still hanging like a mushroom cloud over the leadership of America, racism has become a crucial issue once again.
Not much will change without leadership that displays a high quality of judgment and a dedicated commitment to respect for values that bring people together for the good of society. Too much talk of building a wall, when most Americans prefer being in a mall.
Perhaps the wall is not to keep the Mexicans out, but to keep Americans from escaping what is beginning to look like the beginning of a dictatorship. Just a thought.
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