The revolutionary war gave the United States of America the freedom she professed in the Declaration of Independence. On our 241st birthday as a sovereign nation, the freedoms we enjoy are still a reason to celebrate. The division in our country, however, is nothing to celebrate. You, the leader of people, have the opportunity and an obligation to bridge the divide.
This time last year, I was just a firefighter. Now, I’m leading change across the state of Tennessee, advocating for people with special needs, and training first responders to recognize and more effectively interact with people with special needs in emergency situations. I didn’t ask for leadership, leadership was given to me – and that might be your situation too.
I was eavesdropping on a volunteer orientation recently, when I heard someone say, “We’re all just a paycheck or two away from being homeless ourselves.” Is that true, though?
We have a lot of axioms in America that sound good from an Americanized Christianity but have no basis in truth. One common phrase I hear is, “God only helps those who help themselves.” Or I’ve even heard it, “God always helps those who help themselves.” Either way, this is presented, it is entirely wrong and damaging if it determines how we respond to people.
I gathered my coat and briefcase, locked the door to my office, and walked out the front door of the building. I finished another day of work. The day wasn’t extraordinary. If anything, it was a normal day, but something happened that made me reconsider what a normal day at the office looks like.
December 21 is the Winter Solstice; it is the longest night of the year. From here forward, the nights get shorter and days get longer. The winter solstice marks the beginning of the solar calendar, and even without religious connotations, the day is celebrated across the globe in various ways.
We all know someone who has a great idea to help people. They rally support, cast a vision, and recruit a few people to help them do the work. They start their mission of love and compassion and then they want to know why they aren’t getting the results they expected.
I tell people that I work on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to get out of attending family events. My family likes to have a Thanksgiving get together and my wife’s family does a big Christmas Eve event. An encounter this year, however, ruined that story, and I’m thrilled about it.
(Photo Credit: Chattanooga Community Kitchen).
Unless you spent the weekend completely disconnected from the world, you’ve heard about the controversy around the 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, and his refusal to stand for the national anthem. His reason excuse for refusing to stand as a protest to black oppression in the United States is, in the words of our maniacal vice-president, “A bunch of malarkey!”
Kaepernick earns an average of $19,000,000 a year to play football. Obviously he is a skilled athlete who provides leadership on the field and acumen during a play. As a pro athlete, he is an entertainer and a celebrity. It makes sense, therefore, that if he is passionate about a social woe, then he has a platform to make people aware.
Standing up for a social issue affecting thousands and sometimes millions of people is a noble venture. If you really want to make a difference, after all, actions speak louder than words. To that end, Kaepernick’s action or lack of action has spoken loudly.
Do you remember the lengths Brian Anderson, Scott Vincent, Joshua Wilfsong, Ronald Payne, Timothy Creager, Scott Dougherty, Justin Hunt, Jeffrey Lawrence, Rodricka Youmans, Mark Engel, Tenzin Dengkhim, John Matteck, Nathan Clemons, Clifton Mounce, Christopher Winchester, and Bryan Opskar went to for what they believed in?
These are the men from 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion who died in combat during my time in that unit.
These men believed so much in how great our country is that they were not only willing to write a blank check up to their life for the United States of America, their checks were cashed in. These are the men I remember when I stand for the national anthem. These men and many more like them are the reason Kaepernick has the freedom to disgrace my brothers by not standing to honor our nation and our colors.
Our Founding Fathers didn’t win the freedoms we enjoy by idly sitting down so someone would notice their protest. They took action. They started a revolution that has changed the world.
If Kaepernick wants to use his freedom to make a statement about the oppression of the black community in the United States, I would suggest he use some of that $19,000,000 a year salary to help end the oppression he seems so convicted by. I would encourage him to leave the NFL and join the underpaid ranks of public service where he will be able to shape policies that prevent oppression for all people. I would recommend he consider contributing some of his $19,000,000 to the many worthy agencies that honor our nation, her veterans, and the people they help by actually doing something to make a difference and not grandstandingsitting for attention.
Kaepernick’s behavior is a testimony to our celebrity led society. If you want to be a leader who will affect change in meaningful ways, then do the hard work that makes that happen. Kaepernick’s example is a lesson to everyone: Leadership that influences positive change in a society requires more work than words and more action than sitting.
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When you were in high school or college you learned the SMART acronym for goal setting. Your goals are supposed to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Agreed Upon), Realistic, and Time-bound. SMART goals are still taught in schools, seminars, and other places as the standard model for goal setting. The most innovation SMART goals have encountered in decades is where an extra ER was added to the back end to make SMARTER goals, which includes ethical and recorded.