Howard Spierer Columnist
We are living in incredibly divisive times.
For whatever reason it is virtually impossible to engage in a dispassionate conversation about anything. As someone who aspires to lead and cherishes the opportunity to analyze effective leadership traits, the current environment is maddening.
It’s not just that so many people feel the need to be right; that’s nothing new. It’s the need to explicitly make others wrong and to ostracize and ridicule them for their beliefs. As a leader I want to know why others think what they think and do what they do.
It is equally important for me to be able to articulate why I believe what I believe and choose to do what I do. The operative word being “I.” In my mind when I hear “You need to,” I stop listening. There’s not much I need to do: breath, sleep, eat, drink, piss and shit; everything else is more or less optional.
I also turn a deaf ear when other’s purport to know someone else’s motivation. Cases in point:
- Taking a knee during the national anthem is disrespectful to our country and military.
- Not supporting gay marriage is homophobic.
In my mind it is OK to take a stand not to engage in either practice. It helps if you can articulate your others to do follow their beliefs. That is being judgmental. In my mind, human beings should be free to do what they please as long as it is not hurting anyone.
And by the way I do not ascribe to the notion of hate speech being hurtful. Yes, it may sting deeply, and it may be intended to cause pain. But in my mind it’s nothing more than a reflection of someone else’s mindset. I prefer to know what someone thinks of me so I can modify my words and actions accordingly, if I choose.
In fact, the frequent use of brutal honesty is indicative of a healthy men’s team.
So let me brutally honest; I find nothing disrespectful in silently taking a knee during the anthem. First, I am not certain who decided standing is the only acceptable way to show your allegiance to the flag. I know I missed that vote.
However, taking a knee has long been recognized as the only acceptable way to confirm your loyalty to a higher authority. Back in the day, standing when the King passed could cost you your head. And if it is such a sign of disrespect, why aren’t people getting off their bar stools and couches when the anthem is broadcast on TV?
Moreover, a flag has no feelings, and members of our armed forces have proven more than capable of standing up for themselves. For those who feel strongly about respecting our military put your money where your mouth is. There’s no shortage of veteran aid organizations that could use financial or volunteer assistance. For example: http://www.vhcevent.org/)
It is easy to loudly make others wrong.
And just a little tougher to silently do the right thing.
Howard Spierer is a leader, guide and philosopher committed to learning and sharing the simple truths which are dictated by the definitions and burdens of manhood. His thoughts can be read on his blog ‘Man Up,’ and his column ‘Lessons in Leadership’ for the Legacy Magazine.