An evening with Andrew Young

Had the opportunity to attend the talk last night by Civil Rights activist, former Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador, close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King as well as a former member of Congress. This was part of the ISU Speaker Series, and free to the public. Ambassador Young started as a pastor of a church in Alabama in his early 20’s. That pastoral background was clearly evident throughout the night. He started by warming up to Indiana and some of the folks he has had good experiences with from this state. Good to relate to your audience from the start. He then began his pointed remarks in the terms that we really are in a crisis. He emphasized it we were not in just a political crisis, and an economic crisis, but also a moral crisis.

He mentioned in passing that the Deacons of his church reminded him from the beginning, you may have a northern education, but here in the South, we speak from the heart. No notes allowed in the pulpit. He seemed to speak to the crowd without notes on this occasion as well. Clearly he is very sharp and stated numerous names, dates and places from memory. I’m sure he has more stories to tell than he has time. Ambassador Young would be a good person to have a weekly discussion with if such were possible.

Dealing with politics he made an interesting point about finding common ground. Specifically talking about how Thomas Jefferson was absolutely correct about human rights and social reform (Democratic Stalwart), then mentioned that Alexander Hamilton was also absolutely correct about economics and a budget that worked (A Republican Stalwart). Clearly he was inferring from the beginning we had political issues. However, we need to focus on workable solutions to public problems without dividing into “Blue States” and “Red States”.

Using that same tone he talked about health care and related the expense involved in his first sons birth. He made a $50 down payment and received a $12 rebate. Later his son having insurance when he had a son still paid an exorbitant price of $9,000 after insurance did their part. Clearly he was inferring that the cost of health care has proceeded at a rate beyond what is sustainable.

Another fine quality I appreciate in Ambassador Young’s speech was his humility. He related a number of times with his struggle though college, his grasp of economics and the like. However, it was clear to me he was the kind of person who knew how to get things done and used his humility as a source of wisdom. That’s hard to describe, but evident throughout his talk.

Maybe what I found more motivating than anything else was his ability to see through to solutions and not just political positions. Education both academically and religiously/morally is a great background, but what you do with it is where the real test comes. If you want to change the world for the better, you need to apply that education and moral position to real world solutions. Therefore, let’s get busy about it.

While I am reminded yet again of the story of the Good Samaritan from a humanitarian position as well as an economic position he mentioned something else in that story I never considered. That we really want a world with it is safe to travel the Jericho Road. Inferring another message that non-violence and a moral society is the best society.


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