Recently I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the divisions in our country. Divisions which quite honestly, we see becoming vitriolic, in some cases almost demonic, on both political spectrums of the nightly news. Both sides, I believe, benefiting from our national divisions. Both sides, creating echo chambers, where tens of millions only listen to one side of any given issue. Indeed, due to the vitriol, it is almost as if millions are being trained to hear what the other side is saying, before the other side even opens their mouths to speak.
As a result, I know many individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, who have decided to turn off the news all together. Some are making attempts to listen to both left and right leaning outlets, attempting to find the middle. I think this is a good thing, and more of us must get outside of our own echo chambers, if we are to prevent the cold civil war which is brewing within our republic to boil over. It is almost as if those driving our political echo chambers desire that outcome.
During the years I served as a Sunday School teacher for High School young men, our youth ministry was involved in Student Leadership University (SLU), a nationwide four-year summer “camp” program designed to train genuine leaders out of the next generation. The camps are sequential, 101, 201, 301 and 401. Students may not attend higher level camps, without first sequentially completing lower levels. If you care about the future leadership of our Republic, I highly recommend you check out SLU’s website, for your churches potential future participation. http://www.slulead.com/slu.
Jay Strack, President and Founder of SLU begins each SLU101 by telling students, “Ten years from now, you’ll be the same person you are today, except for the people you meet, the books you read and the places you go.” He goes on to encourage them to appreciate their roots, but to not be afraid to branch out from their comfort zones. In other words, he urges them to become firmly grounded in what they believe (a significant part of SLU), and then spend their lives outside of their comfort zone / echo-chambers. Jay’s advice isn’t for the majority, but to those attending SLU101, generally 8th and 9th graders, who had been identified by their elders as potential leaders, or young adults who either feel God’s call to lead, or through their own desires want to be educated in the principles of leadership.
At SLU101, these principles are being shared with the next generation; however, they are applicable to all generations who choose to serve in leadership. I firmly believe the next few decades of leaders in our Republic will have to work hard at getting outside of their own echo-chambers and comfort zones. Paraphrasing Jay’s advice, leaders today must “meet people they aren’t typically drawn to meeting, read books they aren’t typically drawn to reading, and go places they aren’t typically drawn to go.”
In my opinion, it is this type of leadership we need if we are to find common ground and prevent this cold civil war which is taking place in our republic from boiling over.
Here’s wishing you a productive week!