June 29, 2020
Life is full of choices. Our jobs are full of choices- decisions. Do I hire this person or that one? Should I fire this person, re-train her, or reprimand instead? In only the first three months of this year, the decisions and choices surrounding all of us became literally life threatening with the outbreak of COVID-19. Suddenly our heads of state began to do their work daily on stage with spotlights glaring. Heads of businesses weren’t far behind. All leaders whether of any level of government, businesses large and small, and families had to decide, where to spend money, if they had it, to provide first food, clothing, shelter. Expenses after those quickly became superfluous. As a nation, we’ve come together to not just fight or survive this pandemic, we’ve come together to conquer it. Now decision makers are working to create a new normal, to ensure there won’t be a debilitating relapse of this disease. We were almost able to take a deep breath collectively as we began to brainstorm, question, then plan this new normal.
Until evil made headlines – again. Nearly six months into the year 2020, the unspeakable acts of four drew the world’s attention away from the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the Pandemic, to the death of one man, George Floyd. And people around the world began to protest. They cried out, screamed and insisted enough is enough! The people protested not only the inexcusable, unfathomable actions of four men, but the equally inexcusable, unfathomable actions across generations. Thousands of people made the decision to protest peacefully in order to open dialogues demanding change- to join in solidarity working to finally rid our society of injustice. History has taught us change is difficult, painful and sometimes deadly. Wars both military and civil have documented this. Our nation’s heroes, including President Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ms. Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordon, Ruby Bridges, President Nelson Mandela, Colin Powell, Colin Kaepernick, YOU and so many others who took on battles because they demanded change. They chose those fights believing change must come. They too struggled and suffered. So now are we. We are not reading text in a history book, we must write it! We must make decisions to impact change so that this year will not just be remembered for toilet paper shortages, hoarding, and face masks. It should not be remembered for drive up testing and food delivery. It should be remembered for the creation and implementation of policies, procedures and habits that honor all people. Otherwise, why did our heroes fight and die? Why are people so incensed over the death of George Floyd? Why is an already exhausted population protesting across the nation over the actions of four men, if not but to demand real and lasting change?
So more decisions must be made. Policies and procedures will change. Laws will be drafted and passed. But closer to home, in your daily life, what will you decide to change? Dr. King said, “I have a dream that one day people will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” When you look at a person, when you describe that person, do you look for the content of their character? To end racism in all its forms, we must decide to do just that. Character, honesty, integrity, dependability and the like must become the most important descriptors in our language. We must decide for ourselves how to affect change. Decide today how you will affect change for generations to come.