I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”Martin Luther King
Color of their skin/Content of their character… I realized this week that I’ve always focused more on the “color of their skin” part of this statement than the “content of their character”. I’ve been focused on the racial part of the equation. But, what I’ve come to realize, through watching and trying to learn as this tragic (and repeated) lesson plays out, over and over and over, is that the content of character is the key here.
If we have worthy content of character, everything else falls into place. When you have leadership based on values, morals, and the desire to do the right thing, you strive for what is right until you get it right, or at least improve it, step by step. When you have a societal structure that does not share a set of core values, and a lack of agreement of the most basic human rights, chaos will result. We have a structure in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – our job is to honor that structure. We need leadership that puts human beings and quality of life for all above all else. This is a first step to recovery in a society that is not at peace. As my daughter says (quoting from the movie “Remember the Titans”), “Attitude Reflects Leadership“.
I learn a lot from my kids. They have always been my teachers. I look at the way they live their lives – intentional and thoughtful, with the code they have chosen to live by matching the value system they have chosen to embrace. They are not sheep… they question, they read, they are well informed, and make conscious decisions about who they will support, what they will donate to what worthy causes, what ideas they can get behind. It’s inspiring. During this time of confinement (really, is there a more strange time in our history?), we’ve all had to figure out and face who we are and what we are made of without a lot of the distractions that have taken up much of our time in the past. The content of our character is shaped by what we read, who we listen to, what we spend our time doing, and where we spend our money.
As a white person who will never understand what the life of an average black person in the U.S. is like on a daily basis, I’ve decided, through observation, reading, and a resolution to continue learning, that the best thing I can do is to work on the content of my character. To really think about what shapes my days, my thoughts, and the arc of my life. To really think about what I can do when there is injustice, how I can help, where I can “put my money where my mouth is”. I think working on the content of our character can only help a nation and society that is bereft at the moment. I pray for brighter days ahead. Let your values guide you.
Blessings to you all.