The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a day for us all. Do you have the courage to stand apart and stand out to advocate on behalf of others whose rights are not established or being eroded in some way? Dr. King spent a good part of his life showing us how to stand apart and stand out for the rights of African Americans, Mexican farm workers, trash truck drivers, the “working class” of all races, and a stop to the Vietnam War resulted in thousands of deaths and even more disabling conditions.
Dr. King spoke out about income inequality similar to what was placed front and center in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. He knew the difference between legal and ethical as well as ethical and moral. Do our leaders today know the difference? Listen to the arguments and reasoning. If a leader says that I complied with the law, this suggests the leader is led by a legal compass not ethical or moral. If a leader says, I did that which is right, then the leader is led by an ethical compass. If a leader says I did that which is dictated by my faith (regardless of the faith tradition), then the leader is led by a moral compass grounded in a particular doctrine of faith. Some leaders may be guided by all three compasses.
In the United States, based upon my view of the U.S. Constitution, it is clear that public and private sector leaders should at a minimum be guided by the legal compass. This is not enough even in the business community with a focus on servant leadership, principled leadership, values based leadership,corporate social responsibility, and the Triple Bottom Line (profits, planet, people). Leaders must be guided by ethics and values but those which go beyond ethical egoism. For leaders in the public sector, it is our Constitutional tradition which cautions us not to be guided by one faith tradition whether that is Canon Law, Islamic Law, Jewish Law, or any other law shaped by a specific religion.
In this day of worshiping for-profit, business leaders, it is my hope that we remember that leadership is about prosperity but it also about going beyond what is legal and focusing on rights. Prosperity goes beyond money. Prosperity includes living in a place where everybody is free from struggling, everybody is regarded as a human to be respected and treated with dignity, and everybody is protected from the vicissitudes of life such as illness, disease, disability, and economic hardship.
Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. for allowing us to pause and reflect on your broad agenda to uplift all humanity! Our humanity does not have to be earned. It exists. Leadership is accountable for not how the most affluent prosper in a nation but how the least affluent prosper in a nation. Make every individual in the U.S. and abroad great! Wise business leaders know that you if you do not invest, then it is highly unlikely to generate the reward. Thank you Dr. King!