The right type of leadership

A post two years ago on Facebook struck us as showing a major difference between attitudes in the United States now and in past generations.

The post featured a young, unidentified black woman holding a sign in front of the United States Capitol sometime in the 1960s. The sign showed Uncle Sam pointing his finger and proclaiming:

“I want YOU to stop being


“of other Americans

“of other religions

“of other classes

“of other nations

“of speaking out



There was a concluding sentence at the bottom of the sign that read, “If you don’t get it, ask an American who does.”

When we look at the political climate today, there is also finger-pointing. But, unfortunately, the finger-pointing of this day and age is not meant to inspire but rather to assign blame. Political leaders tell us that certain religions, certain immigrants, certain nations have somehow conspired to make us a lesser country.

That post made us realize once again how inspiring the leadership of a few generations ago was. Confronting the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

Ronald Reagan praised the generations of immigrants that built a great country. In his farewell he spoke of it in John Winthrop’s view of America — a “shining city on a hill.”

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

Roosevelt and Reagan rejected fear and divisiveness as leadership tools. We need to remember their lessons.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.