Richard Hogan: Moral leadership needed if we are to thrive again

Richard Hogan: Moral leadership needed if we are to thrive again

The shocking events taking place in the US amid Covid-19 prompts Richard Hogan to ask if America is great enough for us yet?

Richard Hogan: Moral leadership needed if we are to thrive again
US President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside of St John's Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, DC as Black Lives Matters protests took place across America. Picture: Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

They say a week is a long time in politics. Well, in the Trump administration a day seems like a year. 

It was only two weeks ago that the president was under fire for his lack of leadership and bizarre knee jerk responses to the pandemic. 

That is long forgotten, crisis after crisis has plagued this administration. It is hard to keep up with the unfolding chaos we are witnessing on our screens. 

With steel barriers protecting the White House, curfews in the middle of lockdown, images of churches burning, shops being looted, a president tweeting “when the looting starts the shooting starts” and then moving a crowd of protestors, exercising their first amendment right, with excessive force for a photo op and using a bible as a prop for that message, we have to ask ourselves the question, is America great enough for us yet? 

Surely, this experiment of putting a crass reality TV star at the helm of the free world has failed utterly. We have all watched his presidency like we watch reality TV. 

Eyes half-open, cringing, tickled with a weird voyeuristic impulse of delight as we hear the president just riff about incredibly serious world affairs. 

When David Brent from The Office is on a date and trying to impress his love interest with his classical music knowledge, she asks him which Beethoven songs does he like; he replies, “all of them, all his big hits, all the main ones”. The joke being, he obviously hasn’t a clue about classical music.

Similarly, after Trump stated that he has a deep relationship with the bible he was asked; what were his favourite passages?

To this he replied: “I really don’t want to get into it, when I talk about the Bible it’s very personal, so I don’t want to get into it.”

Ricky Gervais eat your heart out!

He is in trouble. Even he cannot deny this fact. All around him his inner circle contracts and shrinks as with each passing day he loses another key player. And more voices are emboldened by the rising tide of change to be heard in their opposition to Trump’s regime. 

General Mattis being the most esteemed in recent weeks. His extraordinary condemnation of Trump’s presidency, where he accused the president of trying to divide the country and stated that the sitting president is violating the constitutional rights of American citizens, was a stark reminder how serious things have become in America. We need leaders right now.

We need leaders who stand up for all civilians. Remaining silent is not an option. In fact, leaders who are simply sitting this one out, waiting for the people to vote an end to this chaos and disorder need to take a long hard look at themselves. Leaders are elected by the people, for the people. We need leaders who have backbones and are willing to face a storm standing up for a principle.

Richard Hogan: Moral leadership needed if we are to thrive again
Dozens of people march across the Golden Gate Bridge in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in San Francisco last weekend.  Picture: AP/Jeff Chiu

For too long we have looked away. If we have learned anything from institutional abuse in this country, it is that; in silent spaces abuse thrives. We can, no longer, remain silent.

While An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has spoken about the “absence of moral leadership” in reference to the tensions in America, we must not be opaque and state it loudly and clearly.

As we come out of lockdown, having being attacked by a virus that knew nothing of colour or wealth, we must endeavour to wipe the virus of racism from the planet.

This will only be achieved when our leaders are earnestly motivated against it, not just lip service to go over well with the electorate. While I know people will always have bias and prejudice, we can educate our children so that they do not see colour.

Inclusivity is not about stating we are all the same, it’s about celebrating our uniqueness and respecting and valuing our differences.

Bias, conscious or subconscious needs to be tackled. Education is the only way we can achieve this. Ireland has long since moved from a homogenous society to one that is ethnically diverse and rich with emigrants.

Yet, do our classrooms reflect this? I mean the students might be diverse but I have worked in classrooms for many years and the staffroom certainly was never diverse.

So are we really showing racism the red card?

America has always been the shinning beacon, like Gatsby’s green light illuminating the way.

But they need the world to stand up for them now.

We know all to well the psychic scare that oppression leaves in the mind of a people. We have a special relationship with America, we saw that with members of the Choctaw tribe who sent us a gift during the famine.

Now we must return that gift by standing up with them, making our voices heard. So that it will echo for generations to come.

 

 

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