Inspirational Leaders Who Did What Was Right
March 17, 2023 9:00 AM EST | 6 min read
Inspirational leaders have to buck the system sometimes.
Often leaders make decisions that are not very popular at the time but turn out to be powerful and influential on the world’s future.
Here are seven who withstood the temptation to bow down to public opinion.
Inspirational leaders who did what was right, even when it was unpopular
Between World War I and World War II, a man named Billy Mitchell defied nearly every leader of his day from the president on down, to prepare the nation for the future of combat.
Unfortunately, the nation was tired of war and was enjoying life.
Ultimately, Billy was court marshaled for his effort.
His main preparation was the idea of creating an air force component.
His second fight was to prepare Hawaii for a Japanese attack.
Again his ideas were dismissed, and many accused him of warmongering.
However, both issues came to light soon enough, and everything he predicted passed.
The US needed to build airpower, and the Japanese did attack Pearl Harbor.
Sadly, it was too late, and we paid a price.
He pushed for the right things and was dismissed.
Eventually, they named a plane after him (and a city in South Dakota) because they knew they should have listened.
If you have seen the movie Lone Survivor, you may have thought of the ramifications of the choice not to kill the child that wandered upon the four Navy Seals early in the movie.
Many feel they should have simply killed the boy and his father and accomplished their mission.
Even today, there is debate among folks about whether they did the right thing.
That fateful choice led to the deaths of many men (Taliban fighters and more Navy Seals who came to the rescue and Marcus’s three companions.)
Several have written to call that a foolish choice and condemned him for it.
However, in the heat of battle, to take a moment and choose life is momentous and shows the real heart of Americans.
We only kill when needed, but we are a nation that chooses life when given the option.
That statement speaks to the Taliban fighters even today.
The scientist Galileo and others fought for a truth that we hold as normal today.
In his day, people believed the Earth was the center of the universe.
Boldly Galileo sacrificed his family and was ultimately excommunicated from the church for such a statement.
Yet, he continued to back up his beliefs with science.
While not popular in his day, this scientist and inventor changed the way we look at the universe even today.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Even during World War II, German POWs living in Texas were sometimes permitted to go to town, eat, and take in a movie.
These enemies of the nation were allowed to sit at the counters because they were white.
However, African American soldiers in the same diner at the same moment were not allowed to sit at the counter.
It is hard to fathom a diner today that would treat an enemy of our nation better than its own heroic soldiers, but that was the sad reality for many in our nation.
White privilege was over the top around the nation regarding voting rights, bus seats, and jobs.
In all areas, discrimination and racism were seen as normal.
Into that fray arose Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke intelligently and boldly for the rights of African Americans.
His efforts were so unpopular that they tried to kill him, blow up his house, and put him in jail.
However, he continued to do what was right and ultimately changed the heart of our nation, becoming one of the most recognized inspirational leaders.
The Civil War raged on, although most believed that the war would be short-lived.
The northern troops had been losing battles and making little progress toward ending the war.
Abraham Lincoln debated his most pressing decision.
His staff had written up what would ultimately be called the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many in the north were unsure that this was the best course of action.
They wondered why he would do this when the war seemed so far from over.
Lincoln slipped the proclamation into his desk.
This would wait until the north had a victory.
When they did, he made the proclamation official, freeing all the slaves in the rebellion.
Ultimately he was applauded for this courageous move.
Though there was much grumbling and complaining amongst the congress and real anger toward him that came out of the Confederacy.
Lincoln held his ground and is heralded today as a great hero of human freedom.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The world was at war, and that required a leader who loved his nation and could work with the complexity of working with extremely diverse allies.
As Eisenhower kept a characteristic cool in most situations, he was being pressured unrelentingly by other American commanders like George Patton, who said, “This is what happens when you cease to be an American and become an Allie.”
But this warfare took something more than simply military brilliance.
A special finesse was required to work with the larger-than-life egos with multiple personal agendas and patriotic passions.
Ike worked diligently to enable all sides to work together.
As a result, the Nazi threat was ultimately crushed.
Saunier was the Superintendent of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.
A superintendent in those days was like a CEO today.
Harry thought people would support the work if they told the story of the homeless men and women he served.
Others in the industry normally slogged through daily operations and did not really believe that people would want to hear the stories of these men and women who were down on their luck.
But Harry had a dream.
After recruiting help from a local radio station, they produced a radio show called “Unshackled.”
Quickly this radio show that presented reenactments of the lives of the men and women from the streets of Chicago became a sensation.
The show would ultimately air worldwide, and support for the Pacific Garden Mission soared.
Today, telling the stories of the men and women that being served at rescue missions is a standard practice.
But it all began with a visionary leader going against the grain.
Leadership can change the world
We live in a world of polls and heated debates through all forms of media.
It would be easy for a leader to go with the flow so that they can remain in their position.
Inspirational leaders that want to change the world may need to risk offending others in their cause.
Which type of leader will you be?
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