Letter: Leadership is missing today
Do words matter? Of course, words matter. A command of and an understanding of the language we use are essential in a society where we are free to express our thoughts. A review of our history makes clear the societal impacts of words. A review of Hitler’s speeches and statements emphasize the evil world he envisioned. And those who recognized that evil would not, or could not, comment nor act to prevent the horror that followed his rhetoric. And the lessons learned from that conflict — that we are all one on a very small and delicate planet — seem to have been forgotten or lost.
Trump sits in our White House although the majority of Americans did not vote to put him there. He is recognized as a bully who cannot tolerate those who do not promise loyalty or allegiance to him and his racist, nationalist, bigoted, anti-immigrant, uneducated, anti-American views. Our elected officials, those chosen to work for all people of America seem unable to debate, discuss or make decisions or act on the behalf of those for whom they were hired to work.
Words and chants at rallies are laughed at and praised — “lock her up,” “send them home,” and “shoot them” are dismissed as humorous shouts of participation.
Some of us remember the reassuring words of President Franklin Roosevelt when he sought to comfort and unify a nation at war; we recall words of true leadership from favorite authors and poets, intellects, patriots and neighbors.
It is written that President John Kennedy believed in the power of words — both written and spoken — to set goals, to change minds, to move nations. It is written that he consistently took care to choose the right words and phrases that would send the right message.
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good.
That leadership is missing today. Fear to speak out or to engage in meaningful discussion leads to a society that communicates only to strangers waving signs and wearing hats and shirts to send messages via tweets and shouts and gun violence and manifestos of hatred.
We are better than that.
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