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Diogenes Is Searching for Leadership Now

July 13, 2014 - 6:00pm

And so Benghazi fades, the VA story fades, the missing plane, the missing girls in Africa, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, IRS, the list goes on, all fade from the headlines in this attention-deficit, 24/7 news cycle.

None have been resolved yet they fade from our minds as if we are moving through "Its A Small World," sans that annoying music, quickly from country to country with no real purpose to any of the exhibits.

This week our focus is on the tragedy at our southern border, as streams of tens of thousands of "refugees" suddenly appear, all at once, all claiming to be escaping political persecution, economic despair and the ravages of violence in their own countries.

This week we are seemingly as helpless on this issue as we have been on all of the others of late. An old adage comes to mind: The first steps toward getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are." Even this has become a difficult task, deciding to act, deciding to take definitive action following the rule of law and imbibed with the old American can-do spirit. We seem to embrace the axiom that taking no action is an action, while the consequences of inaction mount.

It seems the theme for this week regarding the tens of thousands crossing our border is -- they are fleeing gang violence. Maybe we should have sent them to Chicago over the Fourth of July holiday weekend; 60 wounded and nine killed in gang-related violence. They would likely decide to walk home where it might be safer.

Chicago is a symptom of a broader illness. Two and three generations ago families in the South sent their children to relatives in the North, cities like Chicago, because they thought they would be free from prejudice and so they could pursue opportunities in the growing industrialization in urban areas.

Although living in Illinois for a while revealed prejudices I had not experienced in Florida for many years, the systemic chances were more available there in the 1930-1950s. I fear that now there should be families in Chicago considering sending their children south, where they can be safe and pursue their new dreams.

Times change and evil takes many forms. Some regions or cities are ill, and some have a deep malignancy -- parts of Chicago now are on life support, as are parts of our New South, where nine of the top 20 most dangerous U.S. cities are located.

The immigrants flowing north now are also seeking opportunities, although there is a vast difference between our own citizens migrating and foreign citizens sneaking in or advancing in a human tsunami. Hope beats eternal in the human heart, as does a desire to be better off tomorrow than you are today. However, rule of law should always prevail, even while humanitarian actions take place.

There are so many issues in this complex world that maybe we jump from square to square because we just dont have the will or the ways to solve these vexing problems. Immigration reform has withered on the vine in Washington due to inaction and an unwillingness to tackle a highly complex, interwoven series of issues. No progress has been made and the blame can be laid all around.

When the solutions to individual problems bump up against other issues and we land face to face with new problems, it lies within the political being to retreat and leave issues unresolved.

In all this, what we seem to be missing most is the ingredient of leadership. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, Rarely do we find men willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

America needs leadership as it hasnt needed for a long, long time. Progress can only be made when leaders step forth, resist the easy, lay out a comprehensive strategy and have the courage to both stay the course and accept blame for errors and omissions. Our failure to address immigration issues, both illegal and legal, leaves us all stranded in the mire we see now along our own borders.

Ed H. Moore, Ph.D., is president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

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