There are so many leaders out there who have been held up as exemplary beacons of society. But scratch beyond the surface of their contributions and they all have one thing in common: the persecution and mistreatment of minority groups that were under their care. The contribution they made was to their own communities. They felt it was their God given right to persecute and shun minorities and people who did not align or fall into line.
It saddens me to say that this was the norm. They excluded people who did not fall into line with their ideology and their ways. The whole thing was systematic. The persecution of entire ethnic groups–especially if their numbers were considerably smaller–is something that has happened time and time again in history.
Few leaders have been vilified for this. There is one particular leader who comes to mind when it comes to bearing the bread of shame for this horrible legacy; but he is in good company. There were many others, just like him–who committed the same crime and yet did not have to pay the price for it.
For some reason, they believed that the problem was with the minorities–and these very minorities were not worthy of their care the same way that everyone else was. They are very few leaders out there who have taken care of people who are ‘not their people’. Angela Merkel is one of those leaders who comes to mind. She accepted immigrants at a time when everyone was shutting their doors and closing their borders.
The quest to be a more humane society can only happen when we treat minority groups with the same love and the same sense of compassion that we extend to ‘our own’.
It is easy to pick on the little guy. It is easy to put their concerns and their needs on the back burner. It is easy to say that this is the norm and that this is how it is. It is easy to systematically destroy their livelihood and their way of life. It is easy to do all those things and for the most part, leaders have done exactly that.
The other thing is more difficult: to stand up for people who are not ‘one of your own’. To accept them and to give them a place and to value what they bring to the table and what they could potentially bring to the table.
We can choose to be elevated by our differences or we can choose to systematically destroy and dismiss what makes us different. If we choose the latter as leaders; our contribution to society as a whole will forever be stunted by our own misguided ways.