It’s time for courage. Without it, we can’t face the truth.
It’s also high time for redemption and a deep accounting of what’s wrong in this nation. Yes, America is racist to the core and as sexist as they come. We have a freedom problem. It’s freedom for some. If you have white skin and testicles, you get a pass.
This struggle to become our better selves is not easy, and since 2016 the dark forces of authority have descended and crippled our systems and way of life. Today, things are a serious mess. Clearly, it’s time to wipe this slate clean and start over. There’s no place to hide, justy lots of work to do.
The Chaos in DC Disrupts in Waves
This is how Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, described this week’s events at the U.S. Capitol to his team:
Today’s acts of violence and invasion of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, to overturn the legitimate election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States should be condemned by every American. Our democratic process mandates a peaceful transition of power, and it must be respected as it has been for 230 years.
This is a time for all people of goodwill, but especially every CEO, to stand up and say to their colleagues and communities that this is an egregious breach of the public order, an attack on the beating heart of our democracy.
On Monday, I joined nearly 200 business leaders in signing a letter urging Congress to accept the will of the people and certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden. I was also on a call with 30 CEOs on Tuesday and each business leader pledged to shift political contributions away from those legislators voting to overrule the voice of voters, the states, and the courts. The urgent needs of the American people require us to get back to the business of the country.
Today, the country must come first. CEOs, along with all in positions of leadership, must be the bulwark of trust at the present moment. Therefore, they have the responsibility to speak up for the common good, to reject the violence and hate peddled by those seeking to advance their own self-interest. We have huge issues before us, including a raging pandemic that has claimed more than 350,000 American lives, the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the dismantling of systemic racism.
This is not just a moment in time for business leaders. The cultural fissures that erupted today will continue to divide this nation. After January 20, the hard work begins. Business has a vital role in bringing this country together and solving collective problems. We need to heal and we have a long way to go. Our democracy will endure. We all are contributors, not spectators, in that process.
Brands are mirrors of culture. Brands also create culture.
Richard Edelman and his PR firm are right to voice the pressing need for American leaders in business to step into the larger leadership void. Government and media are broken.
Our businesses keep us together and moving forward. Business is also where societal change plays out. We spend all day working with and relying on other people—people who bring a vast array of experiences and backgrounds to work with them each day. Diversity is real and really American.
What’s Missing: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Presently, the fundamentals of what it means to be a good citizen are missing. Respect for our neighbors is missing.
What happened to treat others as you wish to be treated? Deregulation of media happened. The Internet happened. Self-absorption to the point of rot and disease happened.
Can we now learn to shut up and listen? Will we stop parading? We’re not peacocks. We’re scared and lonely, confused and desperate for something better.
Brands can help usher in a new dawn, but not by playing make-believe. Right now, many Americans do not like one another or the nation. That’s bad civics and it’s horrible for business.