[August 7, 2019] Several readers wrote to me and asked if I would give some leadership points on the recent mass shootings.1 This article is designed to provide some of my thinking but with some input by others. These twin tragedies do allow leaders to show their “stuff” by doing those things within their authority to make a bad situation better.
Leadership is about making the world a better place and to use the old Charles Schwab commercial; Making the world a better place, one step at a time. Anyone who makes things worse, through lying or deceit, does no one a favor. Sadly, I saw several politicians trying to make political points from these tragedies and found such comments pathetic and reprehensible.
Here are a few points. Please comment (good or bad, constructive or not) and add any points you may think I missed. Well, here goes:
- The shootings were done by angry, mentally-disturbed young men. What this signals about our society, I’m not so sure, but our ability to identify and treat mental illness should be studied carefully.
- Politics had nothing to do with the shootings. Those who use the tragedy as a jumping-off point to push a particular political agenda are the worse kind of leaders.
- Blaming other people who could “possibly have stopped” the tragedies, like the shooters’ parents, family, school, the media, or politicians, is a corrupt argument and an irresponsible way of shrugging off accountability. It’s also an immature way of shifting blame from the shooter to others who bear no responsibility.
- To publicly claim, that any particular viewpoint or tool (like a gun, ideology, or association) used by the shooters is fair game to be criticized, banned, or disparaged demonstrates an unashamedly gross ignorance of history and people.
- Ultimately what is associated with most mass shootings, beyond them being mentally disturbed people, is a breakdown of the family, a decline in religion, fast-paced technological changes, a hyper-focus on rights to the detriment of responsibilities, and ridicule of manhood as a toxic byproduct of a bygone era.
- Staying out of trouble, working hard, getting married, and having kids, telling the truth, and avoiding illegal drugs has been labeled as racist, sexist, and homophobic. Some folks ask why anyone should work hard when the deck is stacked against them? This is the kind of attitude that feeds into the anger of young men.
- The widespread use and availability of guns of any type can be ruled out. They’ve been widely available since the beginning of the U.S., and our freedoms have rested on this right to keep and bear arms. Most mass shootings have occurred in “gun-free zones.”
This is by no means a complete list. I’ve given it some significant thought and spoke to at least a dozen of my friends who are U.S. military Flag Officers. We all were thinking along the same lines, so I don’t think I’m too far off the mark. The solution? One way is to encourage young men to adopt more responsibility in their lives.