The strongest leaders can heal wounds

Being Black and being Honest


The truth is, no matter how well-intentioned many people are, perhaps most of us - unless you are Black or Asian or any ethnic minority, you just don't know what it is like. Yes, we "whities" can empathise as much as we like, but we still won't know what it is like to be Black or of coloured race living in a predominately white country, or how it feels to be treated differently.

If you are Black or Asian, you are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. You may not be selected for the job purely because of your skin colour - and so it goes on. I am not Black or Asian, so I really don't know what I am talking about. But I absolutely get the stigmatisation and the unfairness. It is well past time now that all the built-up racism and prejudice that exists in our society today that has built up over centuries is put to bed now, once and for all. 

The pain, the anger and helplessness of Black and Ethnic communities, is palpably real and undeniable. Anyone with an ounce of empathy can feel it. 

I still don't really understand what it is that makes so many people like Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd - so obviously prejudiced against people of colour? I suppose the roots of racism must lie in fear - not really too different from how the Nazi's thought of the Jews?

Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada gave, after some long, purposeful hesitation, a really good answer to a politically fired question re Trump's reaction to the riots in the USA. He diplomatically avoided calling Trump out by name but by his considered response shone a light squarely on Trump so all could see what kind of man Trump has shown himself to be. Not that Trump's response to the rioting is any real surprise. Trudeau also dramatically highlighted the institutional racism that still exists in Canada. Alas, this was highlighted by the awful attack in March on an indigenous Canadian, Chief Allan Adam, which in turn brings nothing but discredit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Trudeau's comments apply, of course,  for so many countries across the world, including the USA, and the UK.

This is not a situation that any one of us should turn a blind eye to. We are humans, and this concerns all members of the human race. Treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. Our world is not equal or fair, but we can all do a little to make it more equitable and fairer. And we all should. If we don't, there will be a much higher price to pay in the future.

But so long as we have leaders who are divisive, greedy and dishonest and set such a poor standard of leadership, it is difficult to understand how we move forward as a species. It just goes to emphasise, perhaps the worst human traits and the down-side of democracy; that we are what we vote for - that we get what we deserve and that is why civilisation, at times, creeps forward so painfully slow and sometimes appears to go backwards. 

That is why these brave protesters, not the looters and provocateurs of violence, but the vast majority of people who courageously go out and protest and stand up against the bully's - that is why we all have to support them in a cohesive message of hope. As to the aggressive premeditated violence that some authorities have demonstrated in some places - it is totally wrong and counter-productive, and the overly-aggressive police should be brought to book. At the same time, we as a society should not tolerate wanton vandalism, theft and destruction of property or violence against people.

I get the impatience of the Black and Ethnic community, but patience with peaceful, consistent pressure will pay off.

Honesty builds Trust

Imagine a person; Black or white, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu - male, female, or LGBT: they decide they want to be a politician.

They, let's call them Bobbie, and Bobbie wants to be the very best MP they can be. So after a time of reflection, Bobbie decides that the approach to the task is critical. So Bobbie makes an undertaking; Whatever Bobbie does, it will be in service to others, and never in service to Bobbie. Bobbie undertakes never to lie. Bobbie realises that there may be positions where Bobbie has to exercise discretion - but Bobbie decides never to tell lies. 

Bobbie also decides to learn, like the great William Wilberforce, how to meditate, which in turn helps Bobbie to become more patient and develop the ability to really listen and actually hear what others are saying before responding.

Finally, Bobbie pledges that no matter how unpopular or difficult, Bobbie will always make the decisions that deep down, Bobbie believes to be the right decision that sits comfortably with Bobbie's own set of core values.

So this covenant that Bobbie makes: never to lie, always, to be honest, to listen and always do what Bobbie believes to be right. Armed with these seemingly simple and straightforward values, Bobbie sets forth on the chosen road of leadership and to become a Member of Parliament.

There are many difficult times along the road; numerous times when Bobbie is put in an invidious position - but always sticking to Bobbie's covenant of core values, Bobbie always seems to navigate a way through. And when some colleagues declare Bobbie to be disloyal, Bobbie simply replies, "No - I am not - I am loyal to my values and whilst we may not agree on everything, we should always be able to agree to disagree. Furthermore, I will not cease from trying my hardest to convert you to my way of thinking. And I will always listen carefully to your argument, and if it is better than mine, you will get my support.

Time passes, and Bobbie gains a reputation for honesty. And this leads to Trust. A deep trust. A trust that is in the knowledge that what Bobbie says, happens. 

Even the people who don't agree with Bobbie develop a deep abiding respect for Bobbie. So over time, Bobbie is lauded by the population at large, because everyone trusts Bobbie. Even the people who don't often share Bobbie's views respect Bobbie because they know Bobbie will not exaggerate or twist the truth. Bobbie always just says it how it is. Bobbie is utterly genuine, and consequently, Bobbie is trusted. 

Now imagine, wherever you live - how many of our politicians fit the description of Bobbie? Can you name any? And - how would politicians be regarded if they behaved like Bobbie? And would our democracy be better if our political leaders behaved like Bobbie? Yes, people will say I am naive - but calling me naive is a cop-out.

Donald Trump - not Blue or Red - The person

From the outside, here in the UK, it is as if Trump has raped the office of "President of the United States of America". It feels utterly surreal and dirty. Watching Trump trample over that hard-earned decency, honesty, democracy, that is POTUS - is a living nightmare. And all America lets it happen? America, for all its faults, stood for something in this crazy and dangerous world. So many American lives sacrificed for this idea - something bigger and more significant than any individual - something holy, sacred. And Trump is desecrating it. 

Oh gosh, I so hope you (and we) all get through this and come out the other side. The world needs you - the USA - and needs you at your best. Rock on November 3rd. Meanwhile, help each other - don't let this egotistical idiot of a mobster President divide you. Stay united - America - please.



Rick - Suffolk - UK - 15th June - 2020

rick@notesfromengland

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