Yes, for those of you following my social media, my posts for the last several years were not an exercise in sarcasm, but my inability to resist sharing my impassioned and sometimes inflamed feelings about the current public narrative. Those same posts have undoubtedly memorialized my liberal tendencies. However, very little about which I’ve commented has anything to do with my political affiliation.
So when a friend recently commented the disdain for one of our elected leaders that was evident in my words, it made me think. Not because I was at a loss explaining to myself why I held such visceral views about the rhetoric, questionable ethics, inability to demonstrate empathy or treat others with respect, or lying that we have all seen on a daily basis. Rather, the idea gave me pause because, while I endeavor to live an impassioned life, I’ve also prided myself on my ability for restraint.
I’ve previously talked about Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player, and the three virtues he suggests. Being humble, hungry and smart, Lencioni espouses, are critical for teams, as well as being a leader and role model. In the book, Lencioni also explains that we should all be mindful of all three of these virtues. And while it’s not likely someone could be equally strong in each, he warns what happens if someone possesses just one or maybe two of these virtues.
According to Lencioni, someone who only demonstrates the ability to be hungry can be likened to a bulldozer. Bulldozers, he explains, are “determined to get things done, but with a focus on their own interests and with no understanding or concern for how their actions impact others. [They] are quick destroyers of teams.” He goes on, but I think that alone describes the person for whom I apparently have so much contempt.
But in reflection, part of that disdain is born out of the realization that many of my comments were neither hungry, humble or smart and served only to relieve the pressure I have felt about current events and characters.
Had I been hungry, I would have sought to understand the reason behind others’ words and actions. I have listened to a lot of conservative talk radio lately in order to better understand the ideological “other side.” But to be completely honest, I’ve done so with a cynic’s ears.
Had I been humble, I would have also looked for and applauded other’s successes–regardless my personal feelings about the person involved. Because, there are people who have benefited by some of the policy decisions that I may have opposed.
And had I been smart, I would have spent more time seeking to find where their ideology intersected with mine. Because after all, I wasn’t just being critical of one person. I was dismissing the beliefs and views of everyone who didn’t share mine.
So as I reflect, part of the fervent disdain I’ve demonstrated is born out of frustration for having allowed myself to react in a contrary way to the virtues I’ve been trying hard to nurture.
As I close, I find it important to acknowledge that, despite my feelings about the intent or the execution of actions by our elected officials, they have brought into light some of our society’s darkest secrets.
More than 60 years after laws that legalized racial segregation and fueled the flames of hate, bigotry and racism were ended, it is clear we have not progressed as much as once believed. The fact that extreme, radical groups continue to exist today prove that a lot of Americans continue to believe that a human’s worth can be measured by the color of their skin, their gender, their socio-economic status, or any host of things that make us unique or different from one another.
But, I am hopeful.
I am hopeful that by triggering extremists to come out into the light, we can now address the issues of racism and equity head-on rather than pretend they don’t exist.
I am hopeful that I and others have the courage to stand up, speak up.
And I am hopeful that as we resist being complicit, we can address the systemic structures that exist that prevent every person from having opportunities for success and happiness.