Today Northwest University observes Juneteenth together with all freedom-loving Americans. This holiday remembers that the Emancipation of enslaved African Americans took over two years to go into effect. As patriotic Americans, we believe freedom for all and equality under the law must never be deferred. As Christians, we believe the most complete freedom comes from the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
After the very recent extrajudicial killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, the needless killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta punctuates the imperative for comprehensive judicial reform in America. Together with hundreds of millions of Americans, we are sick and tired of these killings, and we call on Congress and the White House to take the lead now in ensuring immediate equal justice under law for all Americans, especially African-Americans.
Last week offered the sad but hope-giving experience of attending the memorial service of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I went there to represent the people of Northwest University and to express our solidarity with victims of injustice and our commitment to creating a more beloved community in America. Usually travel entails speaking, but this pilgrimage offered me an opportunity to listen; to shut my mouth for just a little while and listen. And learn.
I stand condemned by the killings of so many African Americans at the hands of police in this year alone. Our whole nation stands in the same condemnation. The continuing immiseration and inequality of African Americans, which dates back to the earliest English settlements in our country, persists to this date, and the suffering of Native Americans continues as always. Today our focus has centered on African Americans, but we have a serious systemic injustice problem
No leader, if she or he had been given the choice of whether to face a global pandemic and massive loss of lives and treasure, would have chosen it. We would have all seen the coronavirus pandemic as unacceptable. But now that we find ourselves in the middle of it, accept it we must. In a short series of blogs here, I have tried to offer a guide to leaders in dealing with the pandemic as a loss, grieving it, and negotiating the stages of the model offered by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross back in the 1970s. The final stage of grieving in that model is acceptance.
The night before last, I excused myself from my wife's birthday party a little early because I wasn't feeling well. Last night I went upstairs early again, suffering the same symptoms. As I sat in front of the television, I realized that I was experiencing anxiety and depression.
A mighty wave of anger is on its way to America and its institutions! Buffeted by the rising tide of coronavirus, we can expect successive waves of emotion to keep rolling in over the weeks and months ahead. Having experienced these realities in Kirkland, Washington, where death first reached America’s shores, our local leaders may have a short head start on the process of grief and loss that COVID-19 has set in motion across the world.
There is a leadership folk tale about the Chinese character that means “crisis,” allegedly composed of the two Chinese characters for "danger" and "opportunity." This tale has become so ubiquitous that even some native Chinese speakers believe it. Sometimes wisdom transcends its origin, even if it started with an error. In fact, every crisis includes an opportunity. If the COVID-19 pandemic means, as we hear so many saying now, that we have come to the “end of the world as we have known it,” we will be faced with the awesome privilege of building a new one! I say, “Bring the future on! I’m planning to live there for the rest of my life.”