"A Call For Moral Courage in America"

"A Call For Moral Courage in America"
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Those who follow our Blogs or have read or heard excerpts from or our several speeches during the past two years know that we have consistently criticized leaders of major Foundations of not being more proactive in addressing critical issues of homelessness, a racist based criminal justice system, and K-12 failing public education.etc, for example

We have been especially critical for their silence or unresponsiveness to some of the most egregious acts of racism and violence in our country. Mindful of the limitations imposed upon them by their tax-exempt status as 501(c) (3) organizations under our Tax Code, we still have been critical of their apparent collective deafening silence in creating programs seeking to address some of those issues recited above.

Consequently, it was like a great gust of fresh air and hope when the Letter of September 6th, 2017 from Darren Walker, President of The Ford Foundation to the Foundation was brought to our attention. Captioned “A Call For Moral Courage in America”, we recite some of its excerpts below” “In the private sector, meanwhile, corporate CEOs are mired in a system that compels them to subordinate their personal values and beliefs. Yes, some have raised their voices—and this is progress—but too many feel pressured to focus on quarterly earnings and share prices, at all costs, rather than enter moral debates or consider the human costs of their silence or support. Why risk offending consumers, analysts, or stockholders by taking a stand, especially when the stock market is riding high?”

“The obsession with, and American addiction to, short-term gain—at the expense of long-term good—is the most obvious example of a larger phenomenon: leaders who make the trivial into the important and the important into the trivial.”

“In philanthropy and civil society, we have also been slow to recognize the ways our systems discourage moral leadership. We foundations often hide behind the particulars of our missions, rather than standing up for the deeper values our missions embody. We keep our heads down to avoid making our organizations targets for criticism, especially in the era of social media warfare”.

“Neither the Ford Foundation, nor I, are immune to these trends, and I know we must do better. I often wonder whether the foundation uses its voice in the most effective way. I question whether I have inadvertently contributed to these problems, or reinforced these entrenched systems.”

“I know many nonprofit leaders and university presidents face similar challenges. They worry about offending their wealthy donors. Some feel constrained in their ability to speak out. They have my empathy, because every day these leaders walk a tightrope to address the diverse and often conflicting perspectives of the constituencies they serve”.

“Even though these problems feel particularly acute in the United States, my Ford colleagues and I see these trends on every continent where we work. From exclusionary populist movements to attacks on public institutions, the media, and the very idea of knowable facts, the challenges we face are global—and so is our crisis of leadership”.

Profiles in courage: The leadership we need.

“While systems conspire to constrain our leaders, the only acceptable response is courage—the moral courage to reject and rewrite the old rules. It was from the steps of the United States Capitol, in the presence of presidents, and with hope for the future, that Maya Angelou proclaimed, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

“Already, I have been heartened by the many people practicing such moral courage, on the ground and in local communities, across every sector.”

“In spite of the disincentives facing CEOs—the pressures from consumers, shareholders, and boards—we’ve seen many industry leaders stand up and use their power, like Kenneth Frazier of Merck and Tim Cook of Apple (who, himself, frames the obligations of corporations as a “moral responsibility”)

“In spite of criticism from other public officials, many elected leaders and university presidents have acted swiftly and courageously to remove Confederate monuments and address the uncomfortable truths of our history”

In spite of the risk-averse cultures of many foundations, leaders like Jim Canales of the Barr Foundation and Grant Oliphant of the Heinz Endowments, among others, have offered powerful words rebuking the hate we saw in Charlottesville. Their admirable responses inspire me, as important examples of how we can speak truthfully and forcefully”.

“We need leaders who build bridges, not walls. We need leaders who work across party lines and bring us together, not politicians who degrade our discourse and drive us apart. We need leaders who transcend the politics of division, who reject the language of exclusion even though it has proven to be a powerful political tactic.”

“It is up to each and every one of us to stand up for what is right—to our boards and shareholders and political parties, to our friends and colleagues, if necessary—even when it is not in our immediate interest. And we cannot wait; we must be the leaders our countries need and the world deserves. After all, what is the point of leadership, if not to lead in times like these? What could we possibly be holding onto, or out for, when everything—everything—is at stake?”

“Soon, it may be too late for courage, too late to take the necessary steps to mend our society. We risk reaching a day when whatever ability we had to influence change or protect our democratic values will have been squandered”.

“Instead, I am hopeful that we can—and will—realize the urgency of now. I am hopeful because I see every day that we, together, are ready and eager and impatient to lead the way toward a more righteous world defined by its commitment to justice and fairness.”

“Now is the time for courage. Maya Angelou famously said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” And so, this year, my message is simple: Like the poet says, let us show each other—and the world—who we are”

We believe this statement from the President of the Ford Foundation is worth reading and knowing about.

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