Our Youth Need Ethical and Moral Leadership
Today we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States, remembering an amazing man that sacrificed his life for what he believed in--a better life for not only African Americans but for all Americans and of every color, sex, and religious creed. His goal was to liberate the oppressed, a motto written in Latin on the symbol of the Army Special Forces -- "De Oppresso Liber". To do this as a leader we have be educated, open-minded, prepared, and strong, but even more so courageous. . .
Ever wonder when you turn on the news, watch a blockbuster movie, or even go to a professional sporting event, how in the world the behavior of adults is worthy of the role model position they are in? Why do we keep watching and supporting these adults? Is it entertaining? Do we agree with their behavior? Do we want our children to dismiss the behavior and at the very least use it as a teachable moment? There are lots of ways of looking at these types of scenarios, and many of these ways can be constructive for our children. However, it used to be that we saw such poor leadership on a more rare occasion and today we find things somewhat reversed where we look to find that one example of what we would like our children to model themselves after. So how do we change all this? First of all, we have to realize that as parents and legal guardians of our children we make the biggest difference in how they will act, how they will treat others, and how they will most likely grow up to be productive and engaged members of society. But it starts with how we model in their presence. There is an old saying in the bible that says, "before you point out the thorn in your brother's eye, you must first take out the thorn in your own eye". That message was all too true, as we all have so much to work on to better ourselves first, before we have any room to point out the faults in others. So start with changing ourselves first--what do I need to change right now that is impacting my son/daughter in a negative way? What do I need to do to change this habit? Do I need others to help hold me accountable, and if so, who can I trust and give this permission to in my life? We all need to surround ourselves with solid friends--ones who are strong enough to keep us on track and challenge us to be better people ourselves. But do we all have these types of people around us and in our lives on a daily basis?
One of the best ways I have found to teach our youth to be strong and resilient to the changes we see taking place in the US that are so bothersome and disruptive to a way of life we know will bring peace, balance, fairness, and happiness to our children's lives is to model well for them, and them use that effective and positive modeling as a tool by which to teach them how to view things they encounter daily through a moral and ethical lens. For instance, you may be watching a movie as a family one night and some negative or immoral acts may be displayed in the movie. After the movie, these are really teachable moments for our children. But rather than just "telling" them what was wrong and what we should do differently, ask them questions. Questions such as "Did you notice anything in the movie that goes against things you have learned to be as a person, or that go against our beliefs?" Open ended questions like this are good because now our children have to think and for themselves. We are somewhat wired to be more "telling" as adults, and I am just as guilty as anyone of this. However, if we use more teaching in the form of questions that help our children to think we can find out what they have really learned from us, as well as how well they have picked up on certain situations and actions that go against our belief systems and then how they best articulate a clear argument and understanding of how to go about resisting the temptation to follow this poor example and lead.
So I challenge you today to liberate those we love from the oppressions they are under today by encouraging moral and ethical leadership that truly underscores the essence of honor, sacrifice, and courage. Lead your children to be great leaders of other youth as well. And remember what Jesus said in the bible more times than any other thing he said while he was with us -- 'Don't be afraid, or anxious about anything'.