(This is a guest post from Lynn Tilton, CEO of Patriarch Partners.)
As we start this new decade, we face dangers of an unprecedented anger and despair within our nation and across the nations of the world.
It is a time when divides widen, factions combat and violence erupts. We try not to speak to subjects that spread fear and panic; we hunger for fairy tales, happy endings and It’s a Wonderful Life. Staying silent and standing still in the face of economic hardship, volcanic violence and a world at war will lead only to an unprepared populace deeply depressed by perceived government apathy to setbacks ignored. There is little doubt our government is acutely aware of dangerous threats and addressing issues behind closed doors. This private policy, however, defies our nation’s hunger for truth and united leadership to command us in the battle we dare confront.
In order to assuage the anger, we must carefully analyse the issues that have inspired its eruption. Enlightenment begins with the search for truth. Truth is a word that we all use easily, but one which few of us understand; without comprehension of its inherent meaning, one cannot make sacrifices essential to follow a path the concept defines. Truth forces each one of us to look at ourselves without façade; to face demons, admit frailties and acquiesce to changes of character in order to become the persons we hold ourselves to be. Living loyal to truth requires a never-ending process of self-reflection. This may appear off subject, with words more aligned to spiritual guidance than a pathway to a country repaired, but such would be perception, not reality.
Healing the economy, assuaging anger and rebuilding America will begin both with truth and self-reflection. We must all strive to be a better people and demonstrate those qualities that create light in a world gone dark. Our country’s most valuable asset is human capital; the most potent force of nature is people standing shoulder to shoulder, moving in one direction, pure of intent and united in consciousness. We must all be aligned in the cause of rebuilding America, with shared vision, courage and perseverance. This march forward begins with acceptance of individual responsibility for our respective roles in the economic, social and spiritual malaise pervasive in our lives and communities. We must transcend from a culture of expectation to a nation of appreciation. We must feel inspired to give and to help — gifts and aid must be greeted with gracious acceptance. Jobs must be created —employment must be embraced. Collective change begins with individual transformation.
It is difficult to ignore daily reports of violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and Yemen. December also witnessed attacks on Berlusconi and the Pope in a more gentile Italy. Christmas 2009 in the U.S. will be defined by the terrorist attack that could have been. And lest we forget the populist anger and vengeance inspired by payment of AIG bonuses, the stampede of the Detroit hungry on lines for Federal help or the need for riot police on California campuses during tuition hikes, we would be remiss to the recognition of seething anger and despondency in our nation divided.
The SEC complaint against Goldman Sachs, that accuses executives of operating the grandest of Wall Street casinos, has inflamed a country in turmoil and highlighted a significant schism between Wall Street wealth and Main Street struggle. Angry senators seeking humility and apology were met with complacency and apathy. Yet, truth be told, responsibility inures to government that both supported policies and rejected regulation; leading to trillion dollar losses and to Wall Street executives using Federal funds, guarantees and bailouts to make markets for traders rather than loans to corporate America. Ironically, in the war of words, neither side apologized, shouldered blame nor sought absolution. With such depth of pain and loss, how could we believe there is no responsible party? Imperfection belongs to each one of us.
Witness the anger that resonates in the “comments” beneath articles posted on this site or blog commentary on others, and we can identify the mass hopelessness in our nation. Anonymity allows for courage to be demeaning, hurtful and irrelevant without any positive power for change. Disagreement and critique with solution are constructive forces; hateful comments that assuage the writer’s own pain and insecurity merely reveal a person in desperate need of self-reflection.
Truth is cold and hard, but it is also the first step on the path of hope and salvation. We are a nation starved for truth; for solutions to plaguing problems, alignment of Wall Street and Main Street, and for honest leadership in the rebuilding of America.
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