Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leadership for the future

During this time when there is the inevitable hand-wringing and finger pointing, one must remember that strong and intelligent leadership in the pro-life pro-family community is needed if we are to continue to battle against those forces that would consign our movement to the dust heap of history. Fortunately in our state we have had some courageous leadership in men and women who I have had the good fortune to know and to work with in this struggle.

As I think about the recent victory with Proposition 102, one cannot but applaud the hard work and excellent leadership of Cathi Herrod of Center for Arizona Policy and Ron Johnson of the Arizona Catholic Conference. Their smart strategies and strategic planning helped to protect the institution of marriage. Now it is important for all of us who believe in marriage to live our lives as an example of what marriage is all about. The best way to strengthen the institution of marriage is for married people to inspire people by lives of holiness and happiness.

On the legal front gentlemen like Peter Gentalla of CAP, Nick Nikas of BDF and Alan Sears of ADF represent some of the finest qualities of smart pro-life leadership. Peter has been an important part of the success in the Choose life license plate controversy. Nick has been a leader in the effort to fight ESCR and cloning around the country. Alan is the president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, a powerful legal support for the principles of life, liberty, and family.

Another lawyer and policy maker, Len Munsil, past president for the Center For Arizona Policy, and his wife, Tracy, also represent leaders who have a strong pro-life vision for this state. Two years ago Len challenged the establishment with a real honest-to-goodness grassroots campaign that surprised everyone. Fighting the power of incumbency and the silent but deadly treatment of the media, Munsil was nevertheless able to articulate a clear vision that integrated a pro-life philosophy in his view of governance. His wife Tracy has walked the talk, being a mother of eight children, a speaker and teacher. She now finds herself asked to offer her talent in leadership for the GOP Committee in legislative District 8.

In Tucson there is Kelly Copeland, someone who has always been the go-to-guy when something needed to be done. And he is raising up his sons to join him in the effort to promote life and protect it at all stages. Kelly's abilities to challenge the complacency of certain people has often required they re-think their agendas.

Each of the various pregnancy centers have their leaders and their inspirations. Indeed as I compose this post, I am amazed at the number of leaders who are also in every way laborers in the field, offering real hope and real help to women and children in need. People like Lorie Futch, Sheila Riely, Kim Schmidt, John Tabor, Mary Peterson, Kay Allen, all have servants' hearts and lead by example.

Then there is the next generation of young people with whom I have had the honor of working with over these many years. And while I can readily salute them by name, I will leave their actions to be the proof of their ongoing influence in the struggle.

Of course I must tip my hat to those who showed us the way, legends like Dr. Carolyn Gerster and Dr. Earl Baker. That column on their heroics and those of the early leadership in Arizona is worthy of its own posting.

So many more I could name but the point is that all of us have the capacity to be leaders in the movement if we remember that it is not about us, it is about others. It is about protecting life and building relationship. It is about promoting a vision that recognizes the dignity and worth of the individual person. In a way all of us ae called to lead when it comes to life. We are to lead first by example. We must live our love of life and our love of not just humanity but of human beings. As we approach the Advent season, we should put this mantra into practice.

One final thought. In any movement there will be those who have honest disagreements as to strategies, tactics, plans, timing and approaches. There is nothing wrong with that. However it is how one resolves to work with others even and especially when one does not get ones way that marks the character of the person. After all what are we about if not for the betterment of our fellow man?


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