A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog had this quote from RBG – “Fight for things you care about, but do it in such a way that will lead others to follow you.” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
More often that we would like we see stories in the news of people who believe that they are fighting for a cause when they do harm to others. They may be loners running around spray-painting hate slogans on people’s property or even killers targeting people who espouse causes with which they disagree. Oft times they are the angry shouting faces in the mob trying to incite others to join them in burning or looting or other acts that are not really aimed so much as protest as just in destruction. These are people who are not fighting for things that they care about so much as striking out in fear or rage at things that they hate.
Martin Luther King, on the other hand, fought for things that he cared deeply about in such a manner that many others followed him. Mahatma Gandhi was the same kind of leader, fighting for the freedom in which he believed. You have probably known or known about other leaders who demonstrated or fought for things that they cared deeply about and attracted the following of others. The American Labor Movement was full of early pioneers who lead the fight for better pay and working conditions. The recently celebrated Suffragette Movement that resulted in women being granted the right to vote was another success story, although not originally an American movement (see Wikipedia from which came this – . The term refers in particular to members of the British Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a women-only movement founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst, which engaged in direct action and civil disobedience.).
More recently, we have seen groups taking to the street to protest the killing of black people by police with the Black Lives Matter movement and counter protests, which gave rise to groups like the Proud Boys. In the midst of all of the protests, groups like Qanon and Antifa have taken advantage of the resulting chaos to foment their vision of anarchy. In all of those groups, there are leaders who are succeeding in getting others to follow their vision of the future, albeit some are very distorted or hate-filled directions. I’m sure that is not what RBG had in mind.
The current political campaigns (which thankfully will soon be over) are certainly example of the two sides both trying to fight for what they believe in and to attract followers. Both sides engage in negative ads as well as those that serve to encourage people to follow their lead. Were a casual observer from another world to sit and watch the political ads on TV for a day they might conclude that no matter which side wins the world is doomed. The messages aren’t so much about “here’s where I want to lead you” as they are about “follow those other guys and America will end up as either a Socialist state or a Fascist state, but in a bad state no matter what. The messages are not so much about a vision of better times ahead if one side wins, as they are a forecast of eminent disaster if the other side wins.
What are the things that you care about? Who are the leaders that you follow? Why aren’t you being a leader, instead of a follower for those things? What role does your faith play in your actions or inactions? Do your decisions and actions inspire others to follow you? Is it time for you to fight and to lead? These are not easy questions, but also not questions to be avoided.
To use an old hack from business that RBG might have appreciated – Lead, follow or get out of the way.