Faith shaken: American leadership needs to step up

Two of my children have the word “faith” tattooed on their arms. Each individually made this choice and was nicely surprised to find the same “tat” was chosen by a sibling. Just before sitting down to write this column that word “faith” began to swim into and take over my mind.

It happened as I watched “Morning Joe.” Periodically this morning, they showed photographs of some of the young children who were shot down in Newtown, Conn. As anyone would, I felt a strong emotional response to seeing these sweet, innocent faces on the screen. I think all sentient American have been on some kind of emotional roller coaster since this heinous event, not to mention the pile-up of all-too-similar tragedies on our land.

I wanted faith. I never wanted it with such hunger. I wanted faith that indeed there is some afterlife, some heaven if you will, where life continues for these precious kids.

Within minutes, my yearning for faith spread. I was soon asking the universe for faith in our politicians. I know that many of the people we send to Washington are decent, intelligent grownups who want to do their utmost to represent the will of the majority of Americans. Still, there are too many who appear to be so stuck to their “policies” that no amount of reasoning, no amount of citizen outcry, no attempts to negotiate will penetrate their minds or encourage them to re-think their stands.

They seem no more open to compromise than a 4-year-old who wants a cookie.

For most of my life I’ve had an underlying trust in our system of government. I still stand in awe of our founding fathers. I still want to believe that the outcomes of the combined branches will ultimately be best for the country.

That belief is shaky now. There is another one that is competing for my attention; that belief expresses itself in the language of “It’s all about money.” I don’t want this to be the case. I get choked up every time I hear the National Anthem or even the Pledge of Allegiance. I feel very fortunate to have been born and raised in America, and want my faith restored. I want to feel again a little chill of respect when I meet a member of Congress – any member of Congress.

Of course I believe in capitalism. Business is such a strong engine for growth, for change, for doing the right thing, as it were. I’ve loved the world of business since I set up a neighborhood retail shop in the basement of our house when I was 8 years old.

For many years I’ve been coaching business people and always feel it is a privilege. I have faith in the stock market.

Lately, though, my faith in business is disturbed. Do we grant too much power to business-backed special interest groups? Going back to those first-graders in Newtown, I believe most Americans want Congress to take major steps to prevent such massacres.

And isn’t money the biggest single obstacle to enacting reasonable laws toward that end? You hear a lot about “freedom.” No one is free to speak, act or even think straight in the face of an assault weapon.

There are so many layers of money behind their production and distribution that it is hard for me to hold onto faith that we can enact any laws with teeth.

Please prove me wrong.

The other bothersome thing to my faith in business is the disparity of reward. Seems there is a growing gulf between the money taken by those at the top and the rest of the folks in many – I hope not most – business organizations. This mirrors the gulf in our society period, as we are becoming increasingly aware.

We can do better. I do have faith in that. I want to regain a strong faith in all of our systems. I am committed to act toward that end.

And for you in the New Year, I wish that you are energized, comforted and made bold by your own faith.

Jo Gorissen is a certified transition coach and a former Milwaukee resident. Her web site is www.coaching and she can be reached at (414) 305-3459.

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