I wrote these words in the very early hours of the morning after a restless and sleepless night. I was consumed by disturbed thoughts about what had transpired in the previous twelve hours.  

My cat, Hope, is sitting on my desk looking at me, very puzzled by this change in my routine. “Why are you up so early,” she asks. “Why the change in routine and, better yet, why aren’t you feeding me my breakfast?” I am troubled I tell her. I couldn’t sleep. I watched an attempted coup d’état last night. I watched a deplorable display of hate and self-interest. Yes, I am talking about the cowards who “stormed the Capitol.” I am talking about those who acted on their deep sense of hatred after having deceived themselves into thinking that they were acting from a place of love and courage. I am more so talking about those so called leaders who acted in the exact same capacity but had different weapons. They did not wave confederate flags. They used different props to display their hatred. They hid behind words and rhetoric. They hid behind their twisted version of tradition and righteousness. Ultimately, though, when their safety was threatened by those they had incited, like cowards will do, they hid in the power of their position.

Real, true leaders do not hide in their positions of power. They attempt to shed the power that comes with their position in order to serve. True leaders do not feed off of the misery of others in a perverted attempt to serve their own self-centered and self-righteous ends. True leaders know—they FEEL—that their essence—their REASON FOR BEING—exists to serve others.  I saw none of this yesterday. I saw fear. I saw fear of losing. I saw fear of that which is different, and I saw fear of engaging, as healthy humans should do, in the conversation to understand the other’s perspective. There are deep seated structures and systems in this society that are built on injustice and inequality. They have benefited some for so long. Yesterday, I saw a fear of losing the privilege that comes with those systems of injustice and inequality, and I was deeply saddened. There is room for everyone in this society no matter what we look like, how we express our spirituality, or how we express our essence. There is room for everyone as long as we come from a place of love and not from a place of hate.  

My cat asks me again to feed her. Her name has a special meaning for me this morning. Hope was named after a soccer player when she came to us as a kitten. Her name now embodies a feeling that I believe we must embrace. I have hope that we can move beyond the current traumas that affect us daily and heal ourselves as a society. I have hope that we can destroy the systems that were built on hate, inequity, and inequality. I have hope that the cowards who call themselves leaders will become marginalized as we move forward in an attempt to understand the difference and diversity that surrounds us. It is what we must do, and it is ultimately what will save us. 

We at Aspire do just that. We act from a place of love and service. We listen and work towards understanding different perspectives. We do it well, and we can always do it better.

My best to you all, Lou

Lou Giramma, CEO, Aspire Living & Learning


True Leaders Should Serve