Leadership is powerful. True leadership is an action word and is more about others than one’s self. Which means leaders have a responsibility that surpasses that of most others. I have often used the phrase with my children when they were growing up, and even now with myself: “Do you want to win the battle, or do you want to win the war?” When I look at examples of people who I consider true leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Pope Francis, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Gandhi, Jesus, and so many others, they all have common threads that connect their leadership. One such characteristic is forgiveness.
I recently purchased First Lady Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming.” I’ve also watched several shows that she’s been on recently promoting her book and one of the topics that have come up continuously is her comment, “I will never forgive Donald Trump for Birtherism.” She went on to further say, the conspiracy theory wasn’t just racist; it made her fear for her family’s safety. While most could understand her feelings and comments, I ask, is unforgiveness really the answer? After reading her comments and hearing her interview with Oprah, where she encouraged people to think about and discuss her comment, I had to weigh in since the topic of forgiveness has always been at my core.
I am a true admirer of Michelle Obama and she will forever be my First Lady. As a woman of color that is full of beauty, grace, and intellect, as well as a loving wife and mother, how could I not be in awe of her? She is bold and outspoken, and I appreciate that she has the courage to speak her truth; however, the words that come back to mind for me is when she said, “When they go low we go high.” I believe she is challenged right now to remember that mantra. I know she is bigger than what has been thrown her way and she can rise and be a true example of forgiveness as a leader that women, girls, and even men look up to.
As children, we are told that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. We all know this couldn’t be further from the truth. Words do hurt and can have lasting ramifications long after the bruises of a physical altercation have healed. But there comes a time when we must rise to the occasion. First Lady, we all know that #45 has said many things that aren’t true. We can’t let him, or anyone brings us down to a place or position that is not a reflection of our true self. We are counting on you to take us high when they go low. Stay true to your core and practice what you believe is true in your heart.
Mrs. Obama, you have every right to be upset. I, too, am a mother and if anyone were to even think of hurting my children or grandchild, they would have a Mamma Bear to reckon with. But no one should ever be able to take us from our core values and belief. You are a role model, you are our role model and we need you to go high, especially when they go low. One of the best ways you can do this is by showing your leadership through an act of forgiveness. Remember, forgiveness does not mean we accept what someone does or says, it frees us of the chains of bondage others try to place upon us. And we are free indeed.
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on!