Our Colorado governor, Jared Polis, displayed an amazing act of leadership in his response to what I consider a question posed in an extreme and divisive way yesterday.
The question asked was:
We are hearing a lot of reports around here … about neighbors reporting on other neighbors for not following the orders … rebellion out here against your orders which have been called tyrannical, against local health department orders being equated to Naziism. How do you react to that? What do you say to those people who are clearly getting frustrated with this stay at home order?
I thought Jared’s response was incredible. It included:
As a Jewish American who lost family in the holocaust, I’m offended by any comparison to Naziism. We act to save lives. The exact opposite of the slaughter of six million Jews and many gypsies and Catholics and gays and lesbians and Russians and so many others.
Ok. Pause and consider that for a moment. When you watch the video (which I hope you do), pay attention to Jared’s behavior as he starts to lose his composure, but then regains it.
He follows with:
It’s not a contest to see what you can get away with. It’s a contest to see how well you can stay at home. By not staying at home, by having parties, by congregating, you are not sticking it to the government. You are not sticking it to Jared Polis. You are sticking it to yourself because you are putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy and you are prolonging the economic pain and difficulties your fellow Coloradans face.
He finishes with:
Now is the time for us to act with unity, to act together, to do the best that we can …
This is leadership in the time of crisis. This is how I want my leaders to lead and to react to challenging questions, divisive and ad-hominem attacks, and analogies to things that are personally offensive.
Notice that in the midst of a question that clearly provoked an emotional reaction, Jared answered the question incredibly clearly with a positive, thoughtful, and unifying, rather than divisive and hostile, response.
Jared – thank you for your amazing leadership in this crisis. Fellow Coloradans, let’s all pull together in this crisis, no matter what.