As a young man, I remember a minister who facilitated the “Athletes for Jesus” sports ministry in Richmond, VA., teaching us about leadership. He would ask, “what is a leader?” As most young people would do, we all tried to describe the best qualities of a person so we could answer the question. After each of us had our opportunity to answer, he said, “a leader is someone who has people following them.” It seemed so simple, even to the point of being incomplete. Our vision of a leader was always a person who had exemplary characteristics and displayed them all the time. It never dawned on me that the requirement for being a leader were so few. This definition introduced the thought that even bad people, could be considered leaders, a concept I struggled with as a young man,
As I matured, I found examples of this notion to be more and more true. None more than the example of the current President and what he incited on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. What transpired that day was deplorable and inexcusable. It is the outcome of selfish and poor leadership. There were lies, ill-preparedness, disrespect, fear, violence and unnecessary death, all caused by followers, HIS people, listening to lies, executing orders with disrespect and spreading fear and violence.
Galatians 6:7b teaches - for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. I submit that these seeds have been sown long even before this leader was even elected as the 45th President. He spewed seeds of hatred throughout his campaign, speaking ill of opponents, their character and even their spouses. The more I thought the “goodness” of America and Americans would reject this type of politics, the more HIS people were drawn to it. The more he fed them this vitriol, the more they wanted from him, and the more they displayed it themselves. This hatred and negativity emboldened and empowered HIS people. The hatred toward others in America rose more to the surface. One could only think, when would America reap the evil it's leader had sown, or how extreme the evil would go? Clearly, it could not have risen to people being abused, mistreated or even killed by police, yet it did. Clearly, it could not have risen to laws being passed to suppress and further disenfranchise Americans, yet it did. Clearly, it could not have led to the mishandling of a global pandemic to the point of hundreds of thousands of Americans dying, yet it did. Clearly, it could not have led to an insurrection, the likes of a modern-day coup d’état attempt, yet on January 6, 2021, it did.
Similarly, I recall Malcolm X being reprimanded by Elijah Muhammed for his comments on America after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Malcolm X said, “chickens coming home to roost never made me sad, in fact, they’ve always made me glad.” In some way, I feel this mindset applies to the events of January 6, 2021. This leader has had his violent, reckless thoughts and words turn against the very America he was supposed to lead. His words and actions, up until then, largely only negatively affected the already powerless, the poor, the minority, and the marginalized. Then recently, HIS PEOPLE started to become victims. Those in his cabinet and his closest advisors began to distance from him, often because they became targets of his poor leadership. Then, HIS FOLLOWERS, HIS PEOPLE, with Trump flags, confederate flags and Qanon flags in hand, under his direction and order, marched to and stormed the U.S. Capitol. The very police HIS PEOPLE say they support(ed) were placed in harm’s way and overrun by them. Not only that, our nation’s legislators were placed in danger. The lawmakers they voted for had to be evacuated because of HIS PEOPLE. I find it strangely ironic the government and this county these people, HIS PEOPLE, love so much, can place in danger and disrespect it so vehemently unto the actions of January 6, 2021.
1 Samuel 15:23 teaches- For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king. These words seem very appropriate for this time. Rebellion, sin, arrogance, and idolatry are just a few words that apply not only to January 6th, but also to the last 4+ years. Isaiah 1:23 expounds upon this - Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them. Due to his conceit and self-centeredness, he has created the like in other politicians who would rather put their own gain (political, financial, and otherwise) before the will of democracy, of the people, and of the county. It seems they seek to make HIS PEOPLE currently, THEIR PEOPLE in the future.
The actions of January 6th should teach us lessons of preparedness, of positive collective power, and of the importance of true righteous leadership. Lesson one focuses on preparedness. Security should have been in place and prepared on January 6th. This event was planned and well-known for weeks, and yet, the unthinkable still occurred due to not being prepared for it. Moreover, the ill-preparedness of the events of that day are reflected in this entire administration over the past 4 years. COVID-19 caught this country ill-prepared. Cyber attacks of this country have caught us ill-prepared. I could go on. Preparedness is an essential tenet of leadership. It is safe to say it has been missing.
Lesson two is positive collective power. Lost in the tragic events of January 6th, is the fact the Georgians, specifically black Georgians, voted and not only elected the first black Senator, Raphael Warnock, to Congress from that state, but also shifted the power of the Senate in favor of Democrats after electing Jon Ossoff to Congress as well. I am reminded of the meme where a child swings of his swing set as a house is on fire in the background just across the street. The child is unbothered and content on the swing as if nothing is going on around him. Black America, in some part, can feel this way about January 6th as well. I can hear Black America saying “I told you so”, as we have been detailing for centuries the violent hatred and evil of certain other folks in America. Yesterday was a testament to that.
Lesson three is choosing righteous leadership. There were those legislators who still found it somehow appropriate to vote on January 6th to subvert the election process, even after the attack on the Capitol. These people who seek their own spotlight during chaos, who place themselves before others and the county they swore to protect and lead, only expose their own greed and narcissism. They are clearly not fit to lead. America needs to learn the power of selecting the right leader with the right credentials who can lead justly and fairly.
It is my hope that, WE, THE PEOPLE, learn from the mistakes of this “leader” and HIS PEOPLE over the last 4 years. We learned the importance and necessity of preparedness. We learned the strength of positive unity. We learn the power of leadership. Will we apply and adhere to these lessons for a promising future of being the “greatest democracy in the world”, or will we dismiss the lessons and be seen as a “third world country with a Gucci bag" by other global powers?