“Let Facts Be Submitted To A Candid World”
It’s time for a candid conversation.
Leadership is spawned from crisis and necessity. True leaders simply lead. They are selfless and courageous, empathic and humble. They acknowledge their flaws and solicit the wisdom of others. Their moral compass is the common good. They seek neither credit nor platitudes. Their reward is the success and well-being of those who have placed their trust in them.
Our country and our region are confronting two daunting challenges: The COVID-19 Pandemic has killed or sickened family and friends, crippled our local and national economies and plunged individuals and families into the chaos of fiscal uncertainty and pervasive fear. Horrific homicidal misconduct of certain police officers has exposed, yet again, the festering social wounds of racism in our country and the resultant plight and suffering of Americans of color. These are common enemies that we as Americans must fight and overcome together.
I emphasize “we” because our Nation’s founding documents are based upon inclusive pronouns that contemplate a collective effort to defend and honor one another and the God-given Constitutional rights of every American. Unfortunately, on both sides of the aisle our political discourse has devolved into the constant use of divisive personal and partisan invective. This pits Americans against each other. This is not leadership. It is self-serving, toxic rhetoric that has exacerbated our problems, fomented unnecessary and otherwise avoidable social discord, and accomplished nothing other than to tear at the fabric of our country.
This is a defining moment for our Nation; an opportunity for thoughtful dialogue and needed reform. I have great faith in our country. Americans believe in redemption. As Americans, we were born for this time, for these challenges, and for this defining moment of change. We have among us leaders in healthcare and the sciences, who will develop the COVID-19 vaccine and identify breakthroughs in treatment – oftentimes, while risking their own health and safety. We also have among us political, community and law enforcement leaders who will hazard forward fearlessly to identify injustice where it exists, build a consensus for change, and eradicate the infection of racism and ignorance. We will do it together. It will not be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But it is our time to lead this country forward.
How? I offer for your consideration the words of the Declaration of Independence. As a prelude to identifying the colonists’ grievances against King George, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “…let facts be submitted to a candid world.” In that same hope, I offer what I believe what we all must do as leaders. We must listen to one another without bias, and sincerely attempt to understand differing perspectives, grievances and fears. We must be patient, agree to disagree without insult or the all too predictable dismissive allegations of ignorance, intolerance or bigotry. We must understand that inevitable disagreements are merely navigable rapids, not insurmountable impediments. We must respect the humanity and validity of every American voice. We must support every person’s right to pursue the hopes and dreams that only can be realized in America. We must reject the generic vilification of law enforcement or any other group and the wanton destruction of life, livelihoods and personal property. Such conduct generates only mistrust and social and political instability, antithetical to the interests of all Americans. America’s greatness can only be realized with the humble receptivity to the perspectives and experiences of all of our neighbors.
In the end, leadership, while difficult, is quite simple. Treat people the way you want to be treated. In the words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “[t]he arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
It is our time. Let’s lead.
William P. Harrington
Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP
One North Lexington Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601