Yesterday, a different man sat in a chair behind a desk. It’s a nice chair. And a nice desk – a gift from Queen Victoria, built from the timbers of the HMS Resolute after the United States helped with that vessel’s rescue.
Much time and treasure were spent on who would sit in that chair. Justifiably so. The person who sits there has the most important temp job in the world often with the power of life and death.
But it’s still just a chair. It’s still just a desk. And we are that person’s boss.
The things on that desk — the great causes of our time — are the things we put there, in the order we put them there. When there is great presidential leadership, it is usually because the great causes of this nation have been advocating for it first. Woodrow Wilson came around on women’s suffrage because it was demanded of him and of those who preceded him for decades. Lyndon Johnson led to codify civil rights protections demanded just as long. It was average Americans’ dimes that cured polio while the government was often working on a better iron lung. Closer to our own time, HIV/AIDS, equal rights regarding sexual orientation, the fight for a cure to cancer, drunk driving, disability rights, veterans rights, and on and on…
These got on the desk because we massed and we fought and we lost then lost then lost then lost then lost then lost then won. And when we won, we didn’t take up golf, which I hear is nice and relaxing. We got ready to lose again until we won.
We’ve seen a remarkable transition on which I won’t opine here. But the same thing is true today as it was two days ago. We have the amount of poverty we demand. We have the level of justice we demand. And, yes, we have the very life and death that we demand.
Thankfully, I know of no great causes or organizations out there who are taking their foot off the gas. And it’s up to all of us to continue to enlist donors, members, and supporters in the fight.
Giving is a good thing. It’s possibly the best thing. Our responsibility to shine a light on this basic fact and to convert that giving into glorious impact continues unabated, regardless of who sits in what chair at which desk.