In 1978, Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, a Russian writer, was invited to give the commencement address at Harvard.
In this speech he said, “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the west today. The western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.”
Following the commencement address, he was widely criticized for his thoughts. But 38 years later, did he see what we did not want to see then or now? It has been said that someone was ahead of his or her time.
Have we lost our “courage” in the role of leaders today? Though that time was 38 years ago, perhaps, we have not prepared our leaders for this time in history with the “courage” to direct our nation. In our lack of courage, are we devoting too much time and discussion to issues that are “fatal ones.”
Pew Research recently released a poll that showed only 56 percent of Americans were proud to be Americans. Has that been the result of lost “courage” in our leader over the last 38 years?
The loss of “courage” at the top of our leadership is now influencing the next generations. The loss of “courage” leaves our nation meandering in all directions without distinct goals.
The reason to be a leader will be shown in the courage to set the direction for a business, in social work or in our government. As we are maundering all over the place as a nation, perhaps this is the time for the president to step forward with “courage.”
Little more than 50 years ago, the former President Kennedy wrote a book entitled, “Profiles in Courage.” Kennedy examined the courageous decisions made by eight senators that shaped our nation’s future. If you’ve never read this book, I urge you get copy and read it.
It would be a courageous act by the president to bring together the party leaders at the White House for a long working session (all night) on the serious domestic problems and foreign policy problems. It would be a daring and courageous decision that would shape our future as Americans.
It could result in breaking the “deadlock.” This act would challenge the leaders to put aside “labels” and “special interest groups” and help America to move forward as a team. Successful teams can accomplish any task.
Once, my father brought two young black mares for workhorses. The only problem was they had never been in the harness. The mares did not understand how to pull together to move a load.
Right now, America lacks the “courage” to pull together for the future of all Americans.
A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army made a comment to a young second lieutenant, “Sometimes you have to stand your ground and pick your ditch to die in.”
We need “courage” in American leadership for this nation to go forward as a great nation. I believe America is a great nation.