Who Are You Serving?
Who Are You Serving?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offers a brilliant analysis of service.
Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve….
You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
Moviegoers fifty years ago were captivated and challenged by a provocative, topical film: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? The storyline was tailor-made for the moment. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn portrayed conventionally liberal white parents who found their principles put to the test when their daughter brought her betrothed home for the holidays. The prospective member of the family was every parent’s dream: a doctor, notably handsome, accomplished, and polished. The frisson arises because the ideal son-in-law also happens to be black, portrayed by the incomparable Sidney Poitier.
In the early twenty-first century we might well look back on that conceit as reflecting a benighted past. We also know that misplaced pride, intolerance and hypocrisy—superbugs among human flaws—have a protean capacity to evolve in new circumstances.
A comparable, contemporary remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner would not be based on racial differences. Nor would it be based on nationality or religious differences or sexual orientation.
Who in 1967 would have guessed that in the faraway future of 2017 partisan differences would occasion its own widespread, weaponized bigotry?
Shortly after the Second World War, a Republican legislator sought to temper criticism of a Democratic president. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Arthur Vandenberg declared that we should stop “partisan politics at the water’s edge.”
Today, partisan warfare knows no bounds. Democrats and Republicans routinely rationalize placing their own interests ahead of the national interest. Their mutual, unceasing attempts to subvert the other party’s political fortunes are now subverting a comprehensive review of Russian influence in American politics.
Ironically, as allegations of collusion swirl around each of the legacy parties, the incapacity of our government to police itself constitutes inadvertent collusion with the Putin regime.
One layer [of Churchill’s character and personality] was certainly seventeenth century. The eighteenth century in him is obvious. There was the nineteenth century, and a large slice, of course, of the twentieth century; and another, curious layer which may possibly have been the twenty-first. –Clement Attlee
The anniversary of the birth of Sir Winston Churchill is a compelling occasion for reflection.
In a textbook case of projection, a preening popinjay, a BBC news personality called Paxman recently dismissed Churchill as a “ruthless egotist, a chancer, and a charlatan.”
Paxman and many others have speculated that Churchill could not be elected today.
These and other observations imply that Churchill’s leadership example is of limited value in our time. His life and work may provide anecdotes and entertainment, but little elucidation about things that matter.
This is surely wrong.
Winston Churchill’s storied, spectacular career holds numerous lessons for 21st century leaders.