Each year, I am amazed once again by the part from the Christmas story that concerns the three wise men. The focal point of the story for Christians of course is the wonder of the birth, to a virgin, of a boy who as a man performs miracles, accrues a following, is persecuted and killed by the ruling powers, and is today worshipped the world over as a savior by so many.
This is a story I know well, it is the tradition I was raised in, but I am equally compelled by this: three guys who see a star in the sky, get on their camels and ride for days to see where it will lead them.
Imagine that! This is not three pals on a bender who start seeing things and go on walkabout because they’ve got nothing better to do. As the story goes, these were three individuals drawn separately to take the same path, out of their similar convictions that something important was happening – and that unknown ‘something’ required their attention. Regardless of your religious faith (or if agnostic), there is something here to marvel at.
Over the past month or so I’ve collected ideas that caught my interest, and this morning I find the writings of three men – two black, one Jewish – their work informed but not bound by their racial identities, bidding for my attention. Borrowing the image, with no intent whatsoever to diminish the earlier story, I see these three wise men converging on a similar theme that deserves the attention of leaders at every level – the responsibility of those in power towards those with less.
Have you got 17 minutes today to go further into this? That’s how long it will take you to consume this information – the length of one good TED talk. Since I think their words can and should stand on their own, I’ll give a quick brief here on each and get out of the way.
Shelby Steele on election day in the Wall St. Journal wrote about ‘Trump, Clinton and the Culture of Deference.’ He makes an argument against promulgating politically correct practices to address the power differentials in society, and for enabling the disenfranchised to take greater responsibility for their own advancement. Roughly 1000 words, 4.5 minutes to read. Here it is. Also available here for those without WSJ subscription.
Bryan Stephenson was interviewed December 19 for the PBS Newshour in a story entitled ‘Shameful Legacy.’ He speaks to the importance, for the full realization of the freedom our nation is founded upon, of national truth-telling about the 8000+ lynchings of black people across the American South since the Civil War, and the recovery that could come from fully acknowledging this reign of terror in our own country. A 7 minute 40 second segment, succinct and to the point. Here it is.
Lastly, poet and singer Leonard Cohen is remembered in a Rites of Passage column in the December 6 New York Times entitled ‘Ode to Leonard Cohen, from a Fellow Zen Monk’ by his friend Shozan Jack Haubner. Haubner celebrates a man – both Buddhist monk and National Rifle Association member – who spent a lifetime seeking ‘the union of contrary things.’ Another 1000 words and 4+ minutes in length, this one operates in the oft-maddening way poetry has of telling you truth in not-quite literal ways. You may have to grope a bit to catch the meaning before it falls through the fingers of your mind – as one must with most Leonard Cohen songs! – but it’s worth it I think. Here it is.
If you are intrigued by these brief descriptions, then view the story and read the articles, and take the time you need to ponder and decide what to make of it. We are fortunate that these three wise men have done the heavy lifting to bring such disparate elements together, and make it easier for us to take this on. In my view, it comes with the territory of all executive leadership to have a point of view in these matters, especially in these times of transition in our nation’s executive leadership.
Comments? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org