Dear Neighbor – Community Business Leaders
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 22:36-40
Dear Community Business Leaders,
I was furloughed from my job a few weeks ago. I don’t say this because it’s your fault, it isn’t. I only mention it because I understand the struggle you are in too. These times are very tough but we love you. I was sad to see your windows boarded for COVID-19 and then spray painted with words of hate and murals of encouragement. Both images reminded me that you weren’t able to do what you love. You weren’t able to carry out your passion either. But I know you will be back. You are a part of this community. We help each other, we encourage each other, we rebuild and we celebrate together.
At The Joshua Commission, we know that you are pillars in our community. You sponsor our little league teams and you let us sell Girl Scout Cookies outside of your doors. You create the jobs and you support our charities. You are the oil in our economic engine. But most importantly you are the problem solvers and the risk takers. You bet on yourselves, your neighbors and our community.
We have a problem and we need your help. This is not a bottom line balance sheet problem per se, but one of equity and opportunity. In recent weeks I’ve been reminded of trailblazers that have gone before you. Men and women who have put it on the line to change society against all odds. I think of Branch Rickey who partnered with Jackie Robinson to change Major League Baseball forever. I think of the men and women who created the successful businesses that gave birth to the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, OK. I think of Sinclair Oil who provided safe rest stops for African-Americans in the early-mid 20th Century. I think of Danny Thomas, a “down on his luck” actor who said a prayer to St Jude (the patron saint of lost causes) and made a promise to God that if He would just give him a break, he would build a shrine to honor him. That “shrine” became St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. I think of your current contemporaries like Salesforce who has a “radically” equal employment and equal pay policy. I think of NASCAR who under the risk of real backlash choose to be more inclusive.
Each of these leaders made a difference. Each of them were bold. They looked at their neighbors and thought, “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not please ourselves. We should help our neighbors and do what is right and build them up” (Romans 15:1-2). As your neighbors, we challenge you to continue in their legacy. No, we encourage you to create your own by standing on their shoulders. The wind is at your back, and your friends are beside you. Create the opportunities you would want, create the world you want your children to inherit and the one they would be proud to know you shaped. Come be our neighbor.