As a Southerner I’ve often had to face some of the challenges presented by Nick Sacco on this thought-provoking blog. But the questions he raises here are bigger than the American Civil War and the stereotypical views of Southerners and Northerners in the United States based on that conflict.

The subject of racism has, over the last twelve years, as someone who led multinational teams in New York City after 9/11/01 – after watching the World Trade Center towers fall up close and personal – and had to manage and counsel in depth understandable anger in juxtaposition to the reality that “not one size fits all” big-picture view that encompassed the multinational team I led and and served, has weighed heavily on my mind.

It weighed heavily on my mind growing up in the South. When I saw prejudice first-hand in my teenage days in blueberry fields in eastern North Carolina, I took a stand against it. I suffered a considerable amount of grief for my stand, but I wasn’t fired. I realized then that those giving me grief simply didn’t understand why what they were doing was so wrong. That, for me, was where I began to learn forgiveness.

We live in a world that divides. As quintessential leaders, our job is to bridge the divides as we are able. However, we must never compromise nor sacrifice the heart, soul, and mind of what quintessential leadership entails to effect a false or temporary or meaningless peace.

We must exercise the wisdom, the discernment, the understanding to know the difference.

Exploring the Past

… or simply racist? It is clear that the legacy of the Civil War is still with us 150 years after the first shots were fired. For all of its poor word choices and cringe-worthy moments, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s song actually provides a glimpse into something quite revelatory. Memories are created, not self-evident. Oftentimes the memories we create about our past are used as coping mechanisms to make sense of events in our past that make us feel bad about our history and our ancestors who may have been complicit in perpetuating that history. Sometimes the goal of our memories is to also forget the past, as evidenced in the lyrics “let bygones be bygones.”

There are other interesting word choices in the song as well. The statement “Caught between Southern Pride and Southern Blame” is something many white Southerners have had to address at some point…

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Comments
  1. Nick Sacco says:

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts on the importance of forgiveness. Having honest discussions about history is crucial in helping us have a sharper perception of the past and connecting that past to our world today. Yet we must find a level of forgiveness within ourselves about past, without compromising what we know to be right today. True leaders embrace diversity and bring disparate groups together to achieve great things!

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