Are You a Builder or a Destroyer?

Builders share a brighter view of the world.Builders share a brighter view of the world.
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Happy Fourth of July! It’s certainly an interesting holiday this year. I had a chance to talk with many different people of color over the past several weeks about my thoughts on The Black Lives Matter Movement. Many of my friends are involved in the protests around the country. It comes to a simple question for me when I judge social movements around the world. Are they a builder or a destroyer?

I’m a multi-racial child of a multi-racial child of the Thirties. My grandfather was black. Not my term, but my Mom’s when describing her father. My mother grew up in Klan country. My term for where she was raised.

Bigotry cannot be allowed to stand

She experienced hate first hand throughout her life. She was never felt accepted in any community. This just hardened her commitment to racial and economic equality.

Her family moved and she went to school in the inner city of Cleveland, attending classes with the infamous Don King and several other people who would ultimately shape our view of life and culture. She had polio and spent several years in an iron lung, losing both her singing voice and her ability to have children to the disease.

But she did have a child, with a man whose family once had a large plantation and all that went with that, slaves, wealth, power, and close friends with Robert E Lee of the Confederacy.

My paternal grandmother was an unapologetic racist. She hated anyone who wasn’t Austrian, she didn’t care what skin color you had.  Even my Italian, WASP wife. I’m neither black nor white enough to be part of any social group.

Racism isn’t necessarily based on color, but on perceived differences.

I have many strong feelings on race. Shaped by meetings and talking with many of Dr. King’s inner and outer circle. My aunt and mom both were heavily involved with the civil rights moment for most of their lives. They were very liberal. My words. Now back to the central theme of this article.

Are you a builder or a destroyer?

I’ve studied history my whole life. I’ve served at the highest levels in government for both sides of the aisle. I’ve led business partnerships and client relationships with two of the wealthiest and most influential people on the planet.

My first professional mentor rebuilt Japan after World War II. He was a builder. These mentors opened many doors for me. They have provided me with access to many of the most influential leaders of our times, and still do.

The Black Lives Matter Movement has been busy taking apart the current system. In some cases, destroying the past. In others, terrifying people. They have destroyed businesses in the inner city owned by people of color. Many of these businesses will not return.

The people they are trying to help will suffer even more. There is a law of unintended consequences at play here. Like the law of gravity, the law of unintended consequences impacts everyone, everywhere, every time.

What needs to happen to make permanent change occur?

The Black Lives Matter Movement must turn the corner to become builders, not destroyers. Every great social movement  that survives the test of time are builders. What do we need to do to make sure these changes last?

Nelson Mandela was a builder

I have several ideas that I learned from Nelson Mandela that might provide a roadmap to a better future for all of us. Nelson Mandela was a builder. As he would say, he had plenty of time to think and create a better society for his country and the world. These ideas were shared in the Freedom Charter.

How do they these ideas apply today? We live in a complicated world. Yet these ideas can provide a brighter future. These ideas can create a foundation that leads to Dr. King’s dream being realized. Dr. King was a builder, not a destroyer.

If you like them, share them. It’s my contribution to the open discussion of race and inequality in our country and the world. They are a starting point, what they become is up to you as a serving leader. You must step up!

The Freedom Charter

The past hasn’t worked for everyone. We must build a brighter future together.  This is the true meaning of independence and freedom. This is my interpretation of the Freedom Charter.

  • The people shall govern. There should not be a permanent ruling class.
  • All people and groups shall have equal rights.
  • The people shall share in the country’s wealth.
  • Every person should be provided an equal opportunity to create wealth and prosperity.
  • Economic equality should be available for every person who chooses to pursue a brighter future.
  • All people are equal before the law. Law enforcement will include people from their communities and stakeholders.
  • All people should enjoy human rights.
  • There shall be work and security today and in the future.
  • Individuals have the right to ongoing education and training to provide a better life.
  • Education and individual cultures should be equally honored in a free society.
  • People have the right to have housing, security, and comfort. No one should live in fear or poverty.
  • Rest, leisure, and recreation shall be the right of all people.

I believe this can be the foundation of future freedom and independence for all people. We need new ideas to help create a better world. Let this be a guide to help you become a builder, not a destroyer. The world cannot have enough builders.

Want to learn more about Nelson Mandela?  Here’s an earlier article I wrote about his life and leadership philosophy.

 This man helped create this revolutionary document. You can learn more about The Freedom Charter.

You must choose the future

You must choose our future. I believe the The Freedom Charter is a transformational document.It could be the foundation for a brighter future for everyone. Are you a builder or a destroyer?   

Happy Fourth of July. A day in which we celebrate freedom and independence for ALL people. Have a safe weekend!

About the Author

Tripp Braden partners with entrepreneurs and senior executives on their high engagement C-Suite communication and content marketing strategies. He believes client education is the best way of building trust and long term sustainable growth. His consulting practice focuses on second stage entrepreneurs, technology organizations, and senior level business executives. Tripp partners with clients to develop high impact C-Suite communication and account based marketing strategies. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Tripp at tbraden@marketleadership.net or send him an invite on LinkedIn. You can find Tripp’s business growth blog at Market Leadership Journal.

Tripp Braden – who has written posts on Empowering Serving Leaders.


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