Why Leaders Must Be Engaged in Political Governance We Must Not Take Our Rights for Granted
Politics is a taboo subject, we are told. Politicians are sleazy, some say. Is that how we think about our war for independence or our Civil War? As a trivial pursuit? How about Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin? Do we think of them as sleazy? I certainly don’t, and I don’t think the vast majority of Americans do either. These men were our leaders. They were civil servants. We venerate their memory and hail their courage.
As leaders, we must be engaged in political governance. You may have steered clear of the politics in your country, as many do in the United States. We tire of hearing the political drama de jour between likely foes who are enmeshed in their arguments and unwilling to listen or come together. Still, I want to challenge you to think about how you can participate in the political processes of your town, county, state, or country. Many have sacrificed gravely to afford us the rights we have. Will we not at least stand and fight for these rights? Will we not fight for the infrastructure that brings law and order?
Here is a stark truth: Our system cannot protect us unaided. Our history alone will not protect us. We, the people, are the ones who must be on the look out, who must fight for and defend our freedoms. I’d like to briefly recount two events in our American history that have served to remind me that we must actively defend and protect the rights that others have earnestly fought to establish.
From Slave to Activist
Born as a slave in New York in 1797, and sold to a cruel owner at age nine for a $100 and a flock of sheep, Isabella Baumfree later changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She experienced the cruelest treatments a human can exact from forced marriages, to taking her child against her will to being sold into slavery. Truth gained her freedom in 1826 and became an abolitionist, and a speaker and activist. How many have suffered to remove this scourge of slavery from our country? Many. We even fought the Civil War because of it.
Some may say that since there is no slavery today, then this story is no longer relevant to us. It is simply a piece of our history. Yet, as we look back at social history, we see example after example of how societies regress. Perhaps slavery is gone in the United States, but from my perspective, the degradation of other humans beings is still very active. It is in our fallen human nature. Therefore, there is always a chance that any civil order may go rogue.
Our Right to Vote
In 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War, the 15th Amendment gave African Americans the right the vote. Right? Wrong. Not all of them were allowed to vote—not the women of any race in the United States. No woman could vote until 1920 with the adoption of 19th Amendment to the Constitution: “The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” As women go to vote in the US today, we must remember that prior to the 19th Amendment that freedom did not exist.
Leaders must fight with courage to protect what is right in our world. Healthy families, strong teams, solid companies. And yes, thriving cities, states and countries.
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