This week we celebrate the 4th of July in the US. I have been thinking – what does this holiday mean for those who want to Lead Well, to do good better?
Our Founding Fathers Risked Their Lives for Their Beliefs
The people who founded this country believed that all men are created equal; that we all have the basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that government must be by the consent of those governed – not an inherited position for royalty. These founders risked their lives for what they believed: If we had lost the war of independence, they could have been charged with treason and put to death.
Yes, their vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was pretty much limited to land-owning Christian white men. But they were from another era. For their time, they were pretty progressive.
We Have to Do More to Support Our Beliefs
If we really believe in the underlying tenets of our country (updated to truly include all people), then we have to do more. If all people are created equal, then we have to advocate for equal pay, equal access to education, equal access to capital, equal access to job opportunity, equal control over our bodies. If we believe that our basic human rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then we need to fix our health care system and our criminal justice system and we need to protect our environment. If we believe that the authority of government comes from those who are governed, then we need to focus hard on inspiring all people to participate while at the same time removing barriers that prevent citizens from voting and reforming systems that give power to the wealthy.
I Use my Resources and my Reputation
Fortunately, I don’t have to risk my life, but I do use my resources and my reputation to stand up for what I believe in:
- I volunteer with and fund organizations that advocate for voting rights, reproductive rights, equal education and job opportunities, and environmental justice.
- I provide unrestricted funding so direct service organizations have resources to use their voices for education, advocacy, and organizing. This is really important because the voices of the people on the ground do not get heard.
- I work with organizations that turn funding models upside down – giving the power to identify problems and construct solutions to those in communities who are most impacted.
- I use my own voice. I have testified at my state legislature, written op ed pieces, and contacted my elected officials. I encourage friends and colleagues to invest more in areas focused on social justice in all its forms.
- I try to be a strong ally.
- I vote.
Think about it: what do you believe in? As a leader, what are you willing to do to stand up for your beliefs? We all have to do more to create the world we envision.