Leadership requires thoughtful, nuanced decision-making. Yet, if we are true to our values, we must recognize that certain issues are black and white and don’t allow for a middle ground. Acts of genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, or the desire to annihilate a neighboring democracy fall into this category. These are not matters where neutrality and chin-down navel gazing improve the situation.
It is as crucial to stay informed and speak out as it is to remain quiet while seeking additional information. A leader knows both are valuable skills. Yet prolonged silence in the face of such egregious injustices isn’t a neutral stance; it is a hushed alliance with those who perpetrate these horrors. In these cases, silence isn’t a virtue; it’s a form of complicity and rings hollow and louder than you imagine.
Issues as grave as genocide, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing are telltale beacons of moral clarity and straightforward values of right and wrong. You can’t afford to be wishy-washy because to waver is nothing less than an endorsement of these atrocities. When perpetrators of violence, terrorists, and dictators face no consequences for their actions, chaos escalates, for they don’t exert self-control over their aggressive ambitions.
In these instances, silence isn’t a moral good; it’s an abdication of duty. How can we, from our privileged positions, claim feelings of helplessness (and thus inaction) while heinous acts continue to shatter lives?
Effective leaders have an obligation. We must amplify suppliant voices, for they carry the truth. We must examine our assumptions and biases, for only then can we act with justice. We must offer our time, resources, and skills to aid those who suffer under oppression. When fear, anger, and suspicion run high, we must hold firm to our core values and denounce all forms of hate without becoming consumed by it ourselves.
Leadership isn’t optional; it’s an obligation. Lead to dispel the darkness that creeps forward while these injustices persist. Lead for the sake of those with shunted voices. Lead because we find our shared humanity, collective strength, and united purpose in the act of leadership.
Yes, it’s essential to balance speaking up on important issues with acknowledging the need for further education and understanding. It’s important to know when to ask questions and when to voice your opinions, especially when the subject matter is serious and you may need to be better informed.
We must stop using the label of complexity as a shield for our inactivity. Is it truly complex, or does addressing the issues just cause you discomfort? Mature people can hold conflicting views while advocating for humanity and treating others with dignity.
It is what effective leaders do.