Moral courage is a rare commodity, rarer still today. Those who stand up—frequently alone—to shine a light on corruption, deceit, and discrimination at the risk of their reputations and livelihoods are worthy of admiration.
Republican representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, football coach Brian Flores—all have gone it alone in standing against reprehensible behavior, disinformation, and injustice. They’re the highest-profile whistleblowers today to step forward to demonstrate the character and courage necessary to live better lives, to show us all why integrity matters. And others, lesser-known do the same.
Today, with truth and trust facing their greatest threat, it’s clear the country is facing an existential crisis.
“We could always count on enough of us trusting enough of us to collaborate to do big hard things together,” columnist Thomas Friedman writes. “And we could always count on enough of us embracing the same truth to collectively navigate our way out of any crisis.
“Both are now vanishing before our eyes.”
And yet, in the midst of chaos and defiance . . . there is a faith that never dies.
Mitchell and Young have removed their songs from Spotify for allowing star pod-caster Joe Rogan to maliciously spread misinformation about Covid-19 on the music platform.
Brian Flores, former Miami Dolphins coach is suing the National Football League over racial discrimination, a pattern of intolerance that has gone on far too long.
Cheney and Kinzinger are the only Republicans to forcefully speak out against the abuses of a former president even while the rest of their party knows the truth but shamelessly remain silent.
What action can each of us take against the assault on truth and trust?
Email lawmakers who continue to remain silent. (They can be found on each member’s website): “Stop being fearful, stand with Cheney and Kinzinger and speak the truth about the threats Donald Trump poses to American democracy.”
What messages can we send to Spotify and the NFL?
Email Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek (firstname.lastname@example.org): “As a Spotify consumer, I am shocked that you continue to sponsor a pod-cast host like Joe Rogan who spreads disinformation about Covid-19. I am boycotting your platform and alert friends who listen to do likewise.”
Email NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (email@example.com): “As a football fan, I’m asking that you appoint a blue-ribbon panel of players, players representatives, coaches and organizations who fight racial injustice to investigate racism in football, report the panel’s findings and tell us how you will address the issue.”
What message can we offer to those we know who support a man who continues to manipulate and lie?
Stop believing that other Americans are your enemy. They’re not.
Stop believing that the government is part of a grand conspiracy to deprive you of your identity. It’s not. They’re people like you who strive to make things work better for you and everyone else regardless of politics. They work for justice, fairness, and equality, among other things.
Don’t buy into the fear from personalities who pretend they’re telling you the truth but are selling disinformation to unsettle you. Don’t buy products from those who sponsor them.
What can each of us do to begin to repair the distrust that continues to eat away at the country’s moral values?
Don’t give in to fear, bigotry, and hate.
Be respectful. Be honest. Be compassionate of others.
You can do this. We can all do this.
Amid all the madness of angry tweets, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama tweeted:
“We live in hope, hope that something good will happen. As human beings we must be realistic and use our intelligence to look at things from different angles in order to see a more complete picture, but it is more constructive to remain hopeful than to become pessimistic.”
Character is not just a word that preachers and teachers use to uplift those who listen. It’s about taking action to do the right thing for the right reasons even though you may be criticized for it.
Before he died, FDR was preparing an address to deliver about where the country needs to be at the end of World War II. These were the final words of that speech:
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”
That’s who we were. That’s who we can be again.