We, Us & Together
First and foremost, let me begin by sharing my deepest condolences to the family, friends and all others impacted by the horrific death of George Floyd. We mourn his loss and will do our best to celebrate his life. The fact is, when a man says, “I can’t breathe” he should be saved…period!
Over the last few days, I’ve spoken with friends and strangers alike searching for a way to help bring additional meaning to his life and in the process, work to stop racism…but I have struggled for answers. One thing that has helped me in all of my past endeavors was to ask better questions. So, as my wife and I sat crying in the shower, this one came to mind…
“Can we ever hope to eliminate racial prejudice and inequality if
people continue using words like “them, those, and they?”
I was taught long ago that when someone uses words like, “them, those, and they” be very cautious…because the use of these types of words often reflects an EXCLUSIVE viewpoint and it’s extremely difficult to make lasting change when people aren’t working together.
Perhaps I’m too simple minded, but it would seem that in order for things to truly change, WE…and I mean all of US, would need to unite TOGETHER to end racial prejudice, inequality and injustice rather than being on one side or another. It must be a common goal, which may be one of the most difficult things to achieve knowing the various political parties, religions and cultures that people identify with.
As I discussed the issues with people that spanned the entire spectrum of age and ethnicity, there were several who said, “Duane, you’re one of “them” whether you like it or not and you’ll never understand.” I agree that I’m not black, nor a minority, but I can surely listen, be empathetic and continue to be educated on what’s happening around me. BUT, if people continue to refer to me as “them, those, and they” my ability to help or provide a positive impact on the situation will be stunted.
So, while I continue seeking wisdom from others, and engaging with anyone who can offer positive dialogue and potential solutions, I’ll strive to do what is within my power. I’ll be committed and willing to stand together with those who have equality as a goal and will support others in need with my words, but more importantly my actions. In fact, my wife and I stood with people as a show of solidarity over the weekend. Yes, there were people who didn't have that goal in mind and showed up to negatively impact the event...but if we are to succeed, we can't take our eyes off the prize and must continue to stay united.
At one time in my life I signed a piece of paper acknowledging that I would gladly lay down my life to defend our country, our people, and our freedom. I swore to defend enemies, foreign and domestic and although I’m no longer on active duty, that oath still guides my journey in this life. Just like when I enlisted in the military, I’d now humbly lay down my life if that would heal our wounds and give us a better future.
More recently, I was the CEO of Leadercast and each day as I walked the hallways of our offices I was inspired by paintings of great leaders like Nelson Mandela, who led South Africa through one of the worst periods of history...Ghandi who brought Great Britain to its knees with peace as his weapon...and Malala Yousafzai who courageously faced the Taliban as she fought for the rights of her fellow country women. Because these great people came before me and demonstrated servant leadership, I KNOW that all things are possible.
There is no question that if skin color continues to be the focus, there will always be a “them, those, and they” mentality…and unfortunately, I don’t have the power to change skin color or make centuries of racial prejudice and injustice disappear. BUT, “WE” can change how we view our fellow man/woman by beginning to look for our similarities. We are humans, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sons, daughters, friends and if you truly want change, then perhaps we should stop using the words “them, those, and they.” We must also recognize there is a long standing system that has been successful at separating mankind rather than uniting us. So, if you want change, do all that you can to resist that separation and work together for a better future.
My wife and I will continue to love you regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or socio-economic background…and we’ll do our very best to make a positive impact on the world by providing an “inclusive” environment for people to be “We, Us & Together.”
You have articulated so well! Thanks for the message.