Epiphany in America
By John Blumberg, Andersen Alumnus and author of Return On Integrity (www.BlumbergROI.com)
This is not the article I intended write for the alumni newsletter. I had been reflecting on 2020 and had been relishing-in (or fantasizing-about) thoughts of new beginnings.
Yet, yesterday in America, the 6th day of a New Year – it all felt more like an ending.
And anything about new beginnings simply felt tone deaf to this historic reality that was unfolding in front of our own eyes. As if the pandemic of 2020 was not enough of an historic reality. I want to be clear; I have no political agenda in sharing this following reflection. Frankly, I do not know about you, but I am sick of politics right now. It has consumed far too much focus, conversation, and emotion – as well as sucked out of all us way more energy than it ever should. At the same time, I will admit, I do have a precise agenda of “depth” in trying to pen these thoughts. It is simply this:
We do not have a political problem. We have a problem of depth.
In a world of social media notifications, sound bites, corporate slogans and meeting themes, weekend church sermon series, fly-by zoom conversations, metrics, measurements, and exercises of polishing veneer – we are all drawn to the illusional surface of this great mystery of life. Granted, if there is a hidden gift in the pandemic, it has been a relative improvement in some deeper reflecting and time for some refreshing reconnections. Yet, in all my now thousands of hours of work on the rediscovery and reimagination of the concept of integrity, the most common resistance I hear is this: People just do not want to dig that deep. I get that. And it is, in fact, true. Very true. Yet, I am not sure we any longer have a choice. Digging deep and doing the interior work, individually or organizationally, is not easy. In fact, it can be really hard. It is certainly, confusing at times. There is never instantaneous gratification … and rarely does progress show itself in the short term.
Let us face it, nothing meaningful ever does.
Most people do not like to “practice” either – athletes, musicians, artists, or communicators. Yet, the great ones do it anyway. When athletes, musicians, artist, and communicators do not practice – they simply do not improve. There are also a lot of leaders who do not want to dig inside themselves. And when they do not – they wreak havoc. Maybe leaders do not dig inside because we do not demand it of them. Perhaps because we cannot. It is hard to demand what you haven’t individually experienced. A leader can only lead you as deep as they have been themselves. At the same time, it may be just as true that we cannot demand more depth of them any deeper than we have dug inside ourselves. I would suggest that we are in the midst of a real “depth-privation.” Not some of us, but all of us. No doubt to different degrees. Our depth determines the health of our passion, the breadth of our insights, and the nature of our persistence and resistance. Our great nation is struggling. We are better than this — we know this, our friends around the world know this and our enemies, no doubt, know this. We need more than political viewpoints and opinions in America today. We need some serious self-reflection to unearth imbedded subtleties of selfishness and self-interests, greed bordering on gluttony, a craving for soundbites rather than a real hunger for sound truth, a misguided draw to individualism rather than inclusion. A nation deaf to the greater good of the whole is certain to grow shallow and shrink in stature and influence. Such a nation eventually accepts the unacceptable, blames those not at fault and shakes their head in disbelief to what is happening around them. It would be easy to suggest that the actions at our Nation’s Capital were simply an isolated representation.
So is a tumor inside a body.
I have never felt sadder for our great nation than I did yesterday. Is this what we have come to? Is this really who we are? September 11th was shocking – a terrorist attack from the outside. January 6th was depressing terrorist attack from the inside. One is a virus. The other is a cancer. It was not lost on me that this attack on our Nation’s Capital came on the day known as Epiphany – a word defined as a moment of sudden revelation or insight. On the surface it may look like January 6th was a wake-up call. I would suggest, that if we do not call ourselves and our nation to a greater depth, we will simply roll-over and go back to sleep. It is time for all of us to pick-up a shovel and start digging towards an Epiphany in America. Together. Which, maybe in the end, brings me back to what I had hoped to write about to begin with … a new beginning. As always, I would love for you to share your thoughts below.
John G. Blumberg is an Andersen Alumni, a national speaker and author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at major bookstores. You can connect with John at http://www.blumbergroi.com/connect