On the fifth of October, 2017, an event occurred that triggered a seismic social shift in the United States and beyond with respect to our collective awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual harrassment in the workplace. What happened on 10/5/17?
Harvey Weinstein happened.
To be fair, Mr. Weinstein does not deserve all the blame for the inception of this now infamous date in history. After all, allegations surrounding President Trump and the three Bill’s (Clinton, Cosby, and O’Reilly) fall from grace broke prior to “Scarlet Thursday,” infusing further foul air into an already overinflated balloon of harassment and prurience. Moreover, we were not apprised of the indiscretions of Louis, Lauer, Rose, and dozens of others until days, weeks, or even months later – after the balloon had already popped. Tragically, all this news was but a preface to the illumination of the granddaddy devil of them all – MSU's Larry Nassar’s – serial and execrable sex crimes. Weinstein just happened to be the “Tipping Point” (Gladwell, 2000)—the first domino in what would soon be a cataclysmic cultural cascade of cancelled careers and ruined reputations involving star studded Hollywood A-listers, much revered media moguls, and multi-generational political icons.
Who could have predicted in September 2017 that by year’s end, personalities and power brokers as long-lived and iconic as John Conyers and Al Franken would be resigning from Congress? Who would have guessed in early October that an actor as talented and beloved as Kevin Spacey would be watching his career plunge into a death spiral of ignominy before the end of the month, or that before Christmas a democrat running for the U.S. Senate would win an election against a republican in a die-hard red state (Alabama) – due in large part to his opponent being dogged with allegations of statutory assault and other inappropriate, salacious behavior with women, including under-aged girls?
Sadly, this is but one of many disheartening moral epidemics currently rocking American culture. To it we must also add school and other mass shootings, the raging opioid epidemic, increasing vitriolic divisiveness in our political discourse, rife income inequality caused in part by greedy, unscrupulous corporate executives, and a host of other issues either rooted in, or exacerbated by, individual and collective moral decay.
In addressing these ugly issues, it is important to remember that the problem didn’t arise because the news broke; the news broke because the problemsarose. The fact that the #METOO headlines flashed forth in such an unprecedented, impactful, and cascading manner simply evinces the problem’s pervasiveness, entrenchment, severity, and ubiquity. Now that the cancellations, firings, and virtual public floggings are past—or at least well underway—it is time for leaders, scholars, educators, and parents to begin doing something far more authentic, substantive and lasting than they have done in the recent past in order to prevent (or at least mitigate) future problems and prepare the rising generation with the moral compass and concomitant virtues they will need to take a higher road than their predecessors.
To accomplish this ambitious objective, we, as a nation, must abandon the Band-Aid and tonic solutions of the past. Specifically, the fickle elixirs of postmodernism (i.e. moral relativism) are proving themselves to be absolutely insufficient in addressing the profound individual and collective moral problems we face. Moreover, simplistic societal salves aimed at treating symptoms rather than healing root causes have proved pathetic panaceas to deep collective wounds incurred across multiple generations.
The only real solution lies in an EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION that fundamentally recasts our institutional and instructional frameworks—and the moral philosophy undergirding them. The world has enough moral relativism; it needs more moral circumspection. It has enough deconstruction; it needs more reconstruction. It has plenty of laissez-aller moral mindsets; it needs more conscious commitments to conscience. Finally, it has had more than its fill of postmodernism and its progeny of prurience, abuse, and despair; and now it cries out in utter desperation for a new Age of Authenticism (Docx, 2011) and the individual virtue and collective character required to eclipse it.
Simply stated, the time has come to start teaching and actively promoting the basics of general, human morality in schools and organizations.
Years ago, I taught 9th grade English at a large, public high school in Houston, Texas. A couple of experiences that school year brought into focus for me the reality that multitudes of students simply weren’t being taught the hallowed nature of sex and the lawful and ethical limits that must be placed on its expression in a just and civilized society; nor were they being taught the sacredness of another person’s mind, heart, body, and spirit.
The first experience occurred while teaching the designated novel for the year—a juvenile work of fiction entitled Speak, written by Laurie Halse Anderson. Of all the literary selections we read that year, Anderson’s book was the most popular among my students.
Speak, which was also made into a movie starring Kristen Stewart (of Twilight fame), tells the story of a teenage girl who was raped at a party prior to the start of her ninth-grade year. The book follows the protagonist through the following school year as she struggles with the difficult and painful consequences of her terrible victimization.
Perhaps the most memorable thing from my experience teaching this novel was reading Anderson’s own words about her experience traveling around the country to promote her book, whereby she discovered a trend that was disturbing, to say the least. In an answer to the question: Have any readers ever asked questions that shocked you? (Anderson 1999, p. 206), Anderson replied:
I have gotten one question repeatedly from young men. These are guys who liked the book, but they are honestly confused. They ask me why Melinda was so upset about being raped.
The first dozen times I heard this, I was horrified. But I heard it over and over again. I realized that many young men are not being taught the impact that sexual assault has on a woman. They are inundated by sexual imagery in the media, and often come to the (incorrect) conclusion that having sex is no big deal. This, no doubt, is why the numbers of sexual assaults is so high (p. 206).
If a young man believes that rape is a casual thing and no big deal, he has clearly received a poor education in morality. If young people everywhere were trained in Self-Action Leadership related subjects like reverence, rectification, self-discipline and self-restraint, honesty, humility, compassion, kindness, courtesy, self-observation, and self-awareness, there would be fewer uneducated boys and men in this country with cavalier attitudes toward women and sex. There would also be fewer unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortions.
My second experience occurred one day when a shy, diffident, young woman asked my female co-teacher if she could speak with her in private. Once outside the classroom, she divulged to my colleague that she had had sex with a boy who secretly videotaped their tryst and was now spreading the film around the school. My horrified co-teacher listened attentively and then directed her to the proper administrative channels to appropriately address the situation.
I could only imagine what this young girl must have been going through mentally and emotionally during this horrific turn of events. My heart felt for her in her time of anguish. My heart ached even more with the knowledge that such an unfortunate incident might have been prevented with proper education followed by disciplined application of that education.
Consensual sex is a serious act. Once engaged in, you cannot "take it back." Moreover, non-consensual sex is a crime; yet young people are obviously not being taught this as seriously or as often as they should. Sexuality is a powerful force that, if not properly disciplined, can devastate individuals, families, communities, and even entire nations. Sex education at home and at school should not only be about "safe sex," but also about "ethical sex," and the very real option of "foregoing sex" entirely until a time in life when you are fully capable of making wise decisions concerning its consensual expression.
A few years ago, I read an article (Jones, 2014) about a mother who was concerned about her college-aged son because of the tendency of the typical college student to get involved in drinking and sexual activity. Her plan of action was to encourage her son to always send and receive a text message before and after sexual activity to provide hard evidence that any forthcoming behavior is consensual. The goal? To avoid legal issues surrounding potential rape allegations.
Rather than teaching ethical sex, or abstinence before marriage to avoid the problem altogether, this mother was more concerned with her son avoiding legal issues, an indictment, or even jail time in the case of a tryst heading south. Her justification? In her own words, she said, “Let’s face it, the sexual revolution is real.” Resigned to the fact that her son was simply a victim of cultural forces and his own libido, she decided to take matters into her own hands by drilling into him the importance of getting a “Yes” text before taking advantage of desired sexual opportunities that came his way. She also took the liberty to fill his suitcase full of condoms before he journeyed off to college.
This woman’s controversial comments and advice to her son evince a growing societal acceptance that young people simply will not, or perhaps even cannot, control themselves with regards to sex. They must therefore resort to protective measures to minimize collateral damage for unbridled sexual expression. How sad is that? How existentially relegated this mother’s attitude is toward her son’s (and his peers) capacity for self-discipline and discretion!
In this mother’s defense, she did teach her son to respect women. Moreover, she is certainly better off to try to prevent a potential date rape allegation than to stand by idly and do nothing. I have no doubt she loves her son and is simply doing what she feels is right to help protect him – which is more than some parents do. What she does not seem to realize is that in her efforts to be a responsible parent, she is implicitly sanctioning sexual permissiveness, and indirectly, perhaps drunkenness as well. Moreover, she has unwittingly become a representative of a populace that has willingly abdicated their personal power of self-control. In the process, she is feeding the unhealthy cultural mores that promote sexual indulgence over sexual discipline.
After completing an 11-volume history of the world – The Story of Civilization – authors Will and Ariel Durant (Durant & Durant, 1996) penned an abridged classic called, The Lessons of History. Their intention in penning a more easily consumed abridgement was to offer something to future generations, “that might illuminate present affairs, future probabilities, the nature of man, and the conduct of states” (p. 7). On the subject of sex, the Durants wrote:
A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group (p. 35-36).
Consider these words, especially in light of its context—a secular observation made by two prestigious historical scholars made after a thoughtful consideration of the totality of human events since the dawn of recorded history. I don't know what the Durant’s personally thought about sex from a moral perspective; I only know that they understood history well enough to comprehend the epic historical calamities brought on by sexual permissiveness. Sex is inherently a wonderful thing, but like so many other wonderful things in life, it can quickly and easily go awry if we are not disciplined and careful, and the consequences of its improper use can be devastating, not to mention criminal.
Unfortunately, in an imperfect world, of which ours is clearly one, there will always be some degree of sexual misconduct. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take serious measures to lower the incidence of preventable crimes while steering a culture towards discipline and away from debauchery. To achieve this lofty objective the answer is concurrently simple and difficult. Students of all ages (including adult professionals) must be taught correct principles regarding sexual ethics and self-restraint. These lessons must begin early and be repeated often. There is no other way. As much as some would like to believe that we as a society have outgrown such teachings, our collective misbehavior completely belies the notion. Collectively speaking, we are a nation out of control when it comes to sex in our thoughts, speech, and actions.
We suggest that the only real solution to this cancerous cornucopia of carnality lies in an educational revolution that is undergirded by a philosophy of thinking, speaking, acting, and being that we call SELF-ACTION LEADERSHIP.
Self-Action Leadership, or SAL, is defined as: Morally informed self-leadership [Manz, 1986; 1983] that is action-oriented, focused on long-term results, and aimed at a continual rise in the existential growth of self-and others (Jensen, Beaulieu, and Neck, 2018, p. 15). Existential growth is defined as: “The holistic (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, social, moral, and financial) growth of personal character, capacity, and integrity” (p. 10).
Between the two of us (Dr. Chris P. Neck contributed to this article), Chris and I have dedicated more than a half-a-century to the academic research and practical construction of the SAL philosophy, theory, and model, which can now be disseminated to organizations, schools, communities, and homes everywhere as a non-partisan, secular, and scholarly construct. It is a practical compendium of principles and practices that are conveniently collected in an effective pedagogical package that leaders, educators, parents, and individuals can utilize to begin the difficult and painful process of gradually extricating ourselves from the menacing moral morass in which we are mired. It is our best hope for the kind of authentic, long-term panacea we so desperately need to address the profound educational, moral, professional, and cultural problems that presently perplex us.
The SAL Philosophy is founded on the premise that the effective management and leadership of oneself precedes the effective management and leadership of others. In the words of Gandhi: “YOU [and I] must be the change that you [and I] wish to see in the world.” It always begins with the ONE. Real change never occurs when someone on television (or social media) monologues. It only happens when an individual – no matter how obscure – takes those first steps of action toward authentic change.
SAL is designed to be taught in homes, schools, organizations, communities, and nations; in other words, anywhere and everywhere that people live and work. Its purpose is partly to teach newly researched principles of human thought and behavior that will influence us all to lead safer, happier, and more successful lives.
SAL is also about getting back to basics by providing reminders about the absolute importance of age-old character traits and virtues. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.” Such character traits and virtues include: self-discipline, impulse- and self-control, delayed gratification, honesty, integrity, hard work, courage, character, civility, refinement, determination, persistence, endurance, respect for and the valuation of human life, loyalty, civic responsibility, justice, fairness, etc. While it is easy to talk about these attributes of character, actually developing them into deeply-ingrained habits is a challenging and ongoing process for even the best among us.
Self-Action Leadership is not a quick-fix approach; nor is it a passing fad cobbled together by slick salesmen. It is a sophisticated, scholarly construct rooted in bona fide academic theory (i.e. self-leadership and action research). It is a tangible tool for honestly addressing and then practically solving (or at least mitigating) the most deeply entrenched problems currently facing our nation.
Five (5) Major Premises Undergirding Self-Action Leadership
1). Metaphysical natural laws exist to govern the long-term consequences of human thoughts, speech, and behavior. These laws, like the laws of physics, are irrevocable realities that cannot be lobbied, legislated, mandated, or otherwise influenced by the styles, fashions, inclinations, desires, whims, or opinions of human beings. Adherence to these laws leads to positive long-term results; disregarding them leads to negative long-term results. The SAL theory cogently identifies and articulates 13 of these metaphysical laws and their corresponding corollaries.
It is extraordinary how much time, energy, and effort American educators put into teaching anything and everything except what student’s most need to succeed in the real world. Aside from basic language skills (i.e. reading, writing, and critical thinking skills), there are no more important pedagogical principles than those involving the triad of leadership, character, and life skills’ education. Despite this seemingly self-evident reality, we are not aware of any school in the United States that provides core educational courses that cover these vital practical subjects for ALL students in a systematic and comprehensive manner. Self-Action Leadership provides a professional packaged template for a foundational curriculum that supports these courses for educators who are courageous enough to embrace them.
2). Among the natural laws in the SAL theory is a categorical assent of the real division between right (good) and wrong (bad/evil). When I pursue good (or right) actions over time, positive and constructive consequences eventually ensue. When I pursue wrong (or bad/evil) actions over time, negative and destructive consequences eventually ensue.
Postmodern philosophers have spent the last 70 years trying to convince American society that there really isn’t any real right or wrong. To their credit, and everyone else’s detriment (including their own), they have succeeded spectacularly. Died-in-the-wool postmodernists won’t even admit that real evil exists in the world. To a postmodernist, bona fide evil – like the actions on display in Parkland, Las Vegas, etc., – is always postured as something else, like mental illness or some other kind of “sickness.” This is not to say mental illness is not a real problem in these and countless other situations we face; it certainly is. Nevertheless, the time has come to ask ourselves if relegating terms like “good” and “evil” to a lexicon of antiquity has helped us more than it has hurt us.
3). The answer to most of my problems is found inside not outside of my own metaphysical world (life).
In our contemporary cultural climate, nothing is ever my fault; nor is anything my responsibility. It is always your fault, my parent’s/ancestors’ fault, my genetics’ and mimetics’ fault, my boss’s/colleagues’ fault, the government’s fault, the Republicans’/Democrats’ fa
ult, the weather’s fault, the stars’ fault, my lottery ticket’s fault, etc. Emerson effectively summed up this phenomenological problem when he wrote: “Henry Thoreau made, last night, the fine remark that, as long as a [person] stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his [or her] way, governments, society, and even the sun and moon and stars, as astrology may testify" (Emerson, 1842).
4). If I desire positive change in my life and the world, I must take complete responsibility for everything in MY life, regardless of any negative influences or impacts of my past, including ancestry, upbringing, social disadvantages, or personal decisions. While every situation may not always be my fault, it is always my problem; and it is my responsibility to solve my own problems.
As a former high school English teacher in a large, public high school in Houston, Texas, Dr. Jensen’s Principal and Administrative Staff would offer a cogent mantra to teachers who would complain about the manifold problems they faced teaching a highly diverse student body. The mantra was: It may not be your FAULT, but it is your PROBLEM! As hard as it was at times to swallow that piece of Self-Action Leadership wisdom, it was also difficult to logically counter the advice. It may be difficult medicine to swallow, but it is the kind of medicine we all need to take on a regular basis. This kind of a personal responsibility-centric pedagogical approach brought Claudio Garcia and his staff a great deal of success working with teachers and students at Cypress-Ridge High School.
5). I am an architect of my own fate and a sculptor of my own life's story. As such, my individual decisions determine my long-term destiny, not my astrological signs or past issues.
America is full of remarkable “rags-to-riches” stories of inspirational individuals who transcended a variety of “Existential Gravity” (adversity) to end up in a very different place than where they started out (educationally, economically, etc.). Such stories are not just for outliers. Any individual who receives a chance to learn basic knowledge and skills in conjunction with Self-Action Leadership-oriented principles and disciplines can rise to become more than he or she was before. But it cannot happen for anyone without EDUCATION and ACTION.
The Self-Action Leadership Philosophy includes an academic theory and model designed over the course of a 30-year autoethnographic, action research study conducted by Dr. Jensen. The SAL theory (Jensen, Neck, and Beaulieu, 2015) is a Maslow-esque self-leadership hierarchy that provides a metaphysical metric for gauging the existential growth of human beings. It is rooted in atmospheric science and astronomical metaphor. The SAL model (Jensen, Beaulieu, and Neck, 2018) is based on a construction metaphor. It provides individuals with the principles and practices they need to develop and make habitual in order to eventually rise to the highest levels of existential growth.
Despite its potential, SAL, and by extension, self-leadership (S-L), is not without its critics. Perhaps the most common scholarly criticism of self-leadership theory is that it is conceptually indistinct from and redundant with classic theories of individual behavior, notably leadership and motivation perspectives. When critics suggest that S-L overlaps with other classic theories of behavior, they fail to recognize that S-L and SAL provides a normative model rather than a descriptive or deductive theory. Normative theories, which are common in applied fields such as business, are prescriptive and emphasize how something should be done. In contrast, deductive or descriptive theories seek to explain the basic operation of various phenomena, but generally stop short of providing specific normative advice for managing a particular process. As Hilton (1980) has suggested, normative and descriptive theories often take differing perspectives in examining the same phenomenon. Indeed, descriptive theories can often help to explain how and why the prescriptions of normative theories operate (Hilton, 1980). Our response, therefore, to our critics is that traditional theories of leadership have proven insufficient when confronting real world problems because they don’t tell us HOW to resolve these problems. We suggest that SAL provides the HOW that we are missing in today’s complex and distressing world.
To date, SAL has admittedly not been very popular. Given our current cultural climate, this comes as no surprise. While SAL provides real solutions to real problems, it comes with a price. This price includes making difficult decisions, engaging in a lot of hard work, and the painful process of examining oneself for character flaws, which we all have. Such endeavors are, unfortunately, very unpopular in our postmodern society where narcissism, hedonism, and nihilism consistently trump contrasting virtues of selflessness, self-restraint, and faith.
Nobody likes to look at oneself honestly in the mirror in pursuit of complete individual transparency. That’s hard stuff! And in this day and age, too many of us are too eager to avoid the hard work required for solving real problems and earning real achievements in life. Collectively speaking, we have forsaken the work ethic and character legacy of our forbearers, who, while certainly flawed, also led lives worthy of emulation in many regards. But maybe, just maybe, after the drama surrounding American politics, perverts, prescription pain killers, and now Parkland, people will finally start to look more closely at a holistic, character-centric approach rooted in education and behavior modification.
Entrepreneur Jerzy Gregorek has stated, “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, Easy Life.” This little couplet simplistically sums up the essence of Self-Action Leadership. SAL is a systematic and research-based form of leadership that can help all of us make the hard choices necessary for a more successful, enjoyable, safer, and ultimately easier (in the long run) life for each us, not to mention a happier, pleasanter world for all.
Following a crisis like the tragic school shootings in Sante Fe, Texas and Parkland, Florida people are quick to offer their “thoughts and prayers” and then move on with their lives while leaving others’ lives qualitatively unchanged. People are even quicker to begin talking about the problem and pointing fingers to pass around blame to everyone but themselves. The time for talking is over, or at least should be. The time for action – Self-ACTION-leadership – has arrived.
SAL is about ends, for sure. But it is also about means. It is about where you are going and how you will get there. It’s about who you are, not in terms of your lineage, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, title, net worth, car, home, etc., but in terms of your authenticity with regards to your capacity for character, integrity, civility, and honor.
Trey Gowdy is a former prosecuting attorney and current member of the United States House of Representatives. He has represented South Carolina’s Fourth Congressional District in the House since 2011. He is presently the Chair of the House Oversight Committee. Democrats despise Gowdy for the role he played in Congressional hearings on the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, Hillary Clinton’s private email server scandal, and the Lois Lerner, IRS scandal. Republicans adore Gowdy for the same reasons. Despite his growing popularity among his local constituency as well as with Republicans across the country, Gowdy has made a move that completely belies his rising star in the political firmament: he has chosen not to run for re-election in 2018, preferring instead to return to a private practice of law where he can spend more time with his wife and family.
In a recent Fox News (2018) interview conducted by Martha MacCallum, host of The Story with Martha MacCallum, Gowdy said something surprising for a politician – something that has more credibility than it otherwise would because Gowdy has chosen to exit his palace of power on Capitol Hill and relinquish his legislative title to someone else in exchange for a return to the justice system—his preeminent civic love; and his family—his preeminent personal love. Said Gowdy: “I don’t think winning is the ultimate objective; I think the ultimate objective is leading an honorable life. The manner in which we get places matters.” Gowdy then proceeded to talk about some of his heroes, all of whom experienced their share of losses in their lives.
Jesus lost a voice vote to a guy named Barabbus. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was put to death. Abraham Lincoln lost more races than he won. How you conduct yourself matters. We are in a society, in a culture, that values winning … [including] cheating to win [and] getting away with committing penalties. I think the way we do things matters. And following a process that is fair, that is the justice system. You can have a guilty person [and] if you don’t follow the right process there is a punishment for it. [But] in politics, if I were to allege something against you, and we’re in a race against each other, you know, whether it’s true or not might pain a moral conscience, but the objective is to win, and I just don’t think winning is the ultimate objective. I think the ultimate objective is to lead an honorable life.
Gowdy continued by striking an unusually non-partisan chord as he further diagnosed the deep cultural calamity in which we find ourselves collectively caught up:
There are good people in public service on both sides of the aisle. [For example], Tulsi Gabbard … we don’t agree politically, but she is one of my favorite people. Joseph Kennedy III: I have incredible respect for Joey; there is not a harder working person in Congress; but look at what happened last week. Here is a former prosecutor, [he’s] hard-working, and [yet] the focus was on whether or not he had more chap stick [on] than he should have had. That’s the environment that we’re in now. … There are good people in public service, but too often; well, I’ll tell you what I tell people back home. I ask them, have you ever heard of Anthony Weiner; they all have, and [then] I [say], have you ever heard of [Congressman] Phil Roe? [And they answer] “Nah, we haven’t heard of Phil Roe.” [Congressman Roe] saved a man’s life at Charlotte-Douglas Airport; [he’s a] member of Congress; [and a] physician; [yet] nobody’s heard of him! So that’s the culture we live in, [but] there are good people in public service on both sides of the aisle.
Gowdy concluded by sharing a few thoughts on what really matters most in life, along with a sincere expression of gratitude for his opportunity to serve in Congress for a time:
I think ultimately … I’m going to be judged on what kind of husband, what kind of father, what kind of friend, what kind of son, what kind of brother to my three sisters [that I am]. I think ultimately that’s what people are going to remember. I’ve had eight years [in Congress]; most people don’t get eight years in the House of Representative … and it’s time for me [to go]. There are lots of way to impact culture. … There are other ways to drive the national discussion and be part of it without holding office.
There were moments in our lives as scholars and authors when we considered pursuing a political career as a means to make a difference and to positively “impact culture.” For various reasons, we opted to take a different route—an academic pathway. Nevertheless, it is our sincere desire to utilize whatever platform we are privileged to mount in a way that productively contributes to the lives of others and that leaves this nation and world a better place because we lived here. It is our earnest hope that the philosophy and constructs introduced and reviewed in this paper might persuade and inspire leaders, managers, educators, parents, and individuals everywhere to take a closer look at character education and moral instruction through the potentially unifying lens of the Self-Action Leadership philosophy, theory, and model— constructs that we have worked a lifetime on to ensure their universality, applicability, and accessibility for anyone who is willing to try to become a better, more virtuous, and yes, even an increasingly morally upright human being.
In management circles, the word “Insanity” is often employed and defined as: “Doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results.” How can we possibly expect to avoid another generation of Bill Clinton, Ken Lay, and Harvey Weinstein if we don’t model, exemplify, and TEACH our subordinates and students a higher way of living and being? The answer to this question is simple: we can’t! If we seek to prevent an endless stream of #METOO movements in the future, or to otherwise create a different result in any other moral domain in ten, twenty, or fifty years from now than we currently have, then we must begin NOW to chart a different course that is marked by a morally superior pedagogical theory, model, philosophy, and process. In doing so we needn’t intermingle church and state or deny certain voices from the discussion. But there is one thing that we absolutely mustdo, and that is to take a collective stand against moral relativism and the other deconstructive elements of postmodern philosophy that got us mired in this mess in the first place. Thoreau (2001) famously remarked that “Things don’t change, We change” (p. 271). The time has come for us – as individuals and as a collective populace – to change. We invite YOU and YOURS to join us in making these necessary changes to our own lives, and just as importantly, the education of our children – and their children’s children. There is no greater quest.
There is something truly earnest and hopeful about the possibility of moving past the dark side of postmodernism (moral relativism) into a whole new age of enlightenment and virtue, even an Age of Authenticism. In the words of Chesterton (2008):
There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we ourselves are incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real. It is the fundamental fact of being, as against not being; it is unthinkable, yet we cannot unthink it, though we may sometimes be unthinking about it; unthinking and especially unthanking. For he who has realized this reality knows that it does outweigh, literally to infinity, all lesser regrets or arguments for negation, and that under all our grumblings there is a subconscious substance of gratitude (p. 15).
Note: This article was reprinted, in part, from Dr. Jordan Jensen’s book, Self-Action Leadership: The Key to Persona, Professional, & Global Freedom. 2015. Bloomington, IN: authorHouse. Pages 124-127, of which he holds the copyright.
About the Authors
Jordan R. Jensen, Ed.D., is the Founder, CEO, and Master Facilitator of Freedom Focused and the author of Self-Action Leadership. Dr. Jensen has a doctorate in Education and a bachelor’s degree in English. He has written four books and hundreds of articles in a variety of publications as a scholar, journalist, and thought leader. He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and two children.
Christopher P. Neck, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the W.P. Carey School of Management at Arizona State University. Dr. Neck is one of the pioneering scholars of self-leadership theory in academia. Neck is a prolifically published leadership and management scholar (over 20 books and over 100 books, chapters, and articles). He has been cited in the WSJ, the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the L.A. Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He has served as a consultant and/or keynote speaker to many organizations. Aside from his publishing prowess and consulting experience, Neck is also an acclaimed classroom teacher, the 2007 Business Week Professor of the Year, and a 10-time recipient of the Students’ Choice Teacher of the Year Award at Virginia Tech. Neck is an avid marathoner, a nutrition lover, and lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona with his wife and is the father of two.
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