We can longer accept “opinion” and “free speech” as an excuse for hatred and intolerance.
As leaders, we must start speaking up about the pain and fear that is being spread around us. For too long we have stayed quiet — disagreeing quietly while letting others bully and badger those less aggressive in their opinions.
That quiet sanity was supposed to squelch the flames of trollish antagonism. Stop the spread of baseless arguments and unnecessary drama. We intended to disarm ridiculous behavior with class and dignity, thoughtfulness and insight.
But we were wrong.
Well intentioned. Reasoned. Focused. We were trying to do the right thing. But ultimately we have been failing. We have failed those around us who look to us for protection.
By not entering the fray we have kept our armor unblemished while soldiers in the the fight have fallen wounded on the battlefield.
Some defeated. Others bloodied. Most scarred. All scared.
All around us.
The issues range from business to politics, religion, sexuality, obesity, health, skin color, and gender, in a million heinous combinations. All around us loud-mouthed antagonists tell us that we’re “too fat”, “too gay”, or “not white enough, right enough, or rich enough”.
It’s said. And typed. Tweeted, Skyped, and blogged. The worst of our humanity ascribed to those we can not manipulate and choose to not understand.
That hatred impacts the weakest among us.
The results are staggering.
Our children seem to be reaping the worst of our behavior.
It’s become a sad day when the second biggest killer of our children is suicide — not car crashes, alcohol abuse, murder, molestation or cancer. Our kids are killing themselves to avoid the hatred and pain we have left unchallenged.
Perhaps it’s time for a different kind of leader
Perhaps it’s time for a leader who points out intolerance and bigotry instead of turning away to focus on more pressing matters. Maybe a lack of love and empathy is a matter of more importance.
In days of old, ordinary people would rise up against wrongdoers. They would gather any weapons they had and seek out those who had maliciously done them wrong. They would fight for what was right even though that journey took them away from their homes and work and livelihood.
These vigilantes fought for what was right. They fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. For those who had been wronged. They didn’t wait for the ruler to make new rules. Or for the justice system to render justice.
They took responsibility into their own hands.
They fought for what was right.
That’s the banner cry for today’s leader. The cause of right must not be bullied by those who speak only hatred and condescension. The days of letting the “chips fall where they may” and “letting things work themselves out” have been darkened by the pettiness and selfish behavior of those who will do anything only as long as it benefits themselves.
And people are dying because of it.
Children are dead.
And we as leaders bear responsibility for not raising our voices and shouting from the mountain-tops that intolerance and bigotry have no place in our society.
We must not be silent. We must be heard.
Today dawns a new era. The age of the vigilante.