I have spent most of my adult life in professional football. And through all my successes and failures, through studying the most successful teams, speaking with the best coaches and players, the one important thing I learned is that process matters. Not only does process matter, process is everything.
The way you do things; the way you operate your team, the structure, the methods, the guiding principles, matter. And adhering to the process and principles is the most vital element of success. The teams that violate their process on a hunch, for a short-term gain, in making an emotional decision, or in response to a crisis, usually are mired in systemic failure. Adhering to the process does not mean they are no avenues to amend the process, but changes are usually enacted through careful study within the well thought out established process.
On June 21, 1788, the founders of our country ratified a document which outlined the greatest process and principles for any country; The United States Constitution. Prior to the passing of this document, there was no process. The process was the will and the whims of the King, and the people were subject to his random desires. The founders put in place a system which directly contradicted that random process of the king. They affirmed the inalienable rights of the citizens, codified strict limits to the government, and created a process designed to deal with grievances, conflicts and crises.
The fact that the men who wrote and ratified this document were extremely flawed, does not make what they wrote untrue. If we found out that Albert Einstein murdered someone, would that invalidate his Theory of Relativity? Of course not. Most of the founders were slave owners, but does that make the statement, “all men are created equal” suddenly untrue? The process matters. The process they set up matters, even when they violated the process. We excoriate the founders because they owned slaves which violated the principles of the process they created, and that violation of their process was the evil of slavery. Process matters.
If we are to look at all of the injustices throughout our nation’s history, the one common theme that we will find is the violation of the process and the principles set forth in the Constitution. Even the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision which was a complete miscarriage of justice, could only be arrived at because the justices violated the key founding principles.
So, instead of doing away with this process because the founders or others in our history have failed to adhere to them on many occasions, we need to embrace the process, and the principles even more than ever right now. In times of crisis, the process, the principles become the most grounding and effective tools for navigating the crisis. The people who panic, the people who act emotionally usually make really bad irreparable decisions.
When I look at the problems and crises we face today, I see lack of process everywhere. George Floyd is dead today because Derek Chauvin violated the processes of law enforcement. Nowhere in the police manual or in his police training was he taught to kneel on a handcuffed man’s neck for eight minutes.
When I look at the riots, the 17 people who have been killed, the hundreds of police officers who have been injured, the thousands of stores that have been burned to the ground, the billions of dollars of damage that has been inflicted upon this nation, I see extreme lack of process. I have reread the constitution and the bill of rights, and I could not find any place where killing, injuring and destroying is part of any process of justice. Process matters.
Walking arm in arm in peaceful protest is part of the process which has a chance at returning the desired results of justice. Using law enforcement to legally and humanely arrest unlawful people is embracing the process of justice. Petitioning the courts when your rights have been violated is a legitimate path to justice.
Running through the streets setting cars on fire, throwing bricks, burning down stores, disbanding law enforcement, tearing up the constitution is the road to chaos and deeper injustices.
Our principles and our process are our destiny. And if our principles and processes are destroyed, and the will and whims of an enraged mob becomes our process for justice then our destiny looks extremely bleak.