As I work to enroll in a learning program focused on qualities of leadership, I am aware that most examples in my life of leadership feel accidental. In the right place at the right time. For the most part my life has been a “behind the scenes” kind of life. My invisible job from home or small group office, my passion early on for nature connection, making music and meditative endeavors in solitude.
The few exceptions stand out in strong relief because of the rest of my life’s background. Like when I wrote and gave a speech in front of 600 of Seattle region’s elite, MC’d by a star TV anchor in a hotel ballroom to raise funds for a charity who had given me so much. I borrowed all clothing and got shoes at a thrift store. I was quite literally shaking the entire time. But even though I am unsure who I pray TO, I prayed immediately before the speech to be used as an instrument for the cause. My voice was steady and the fundraising over-the-top successful. Following that event, I was given accolades by a former speech writer for a Seattle mayor and asked to join several volunteer committees providing leadership in that way.
Recently, a seemingly innocuous event happened in my household that made me aware of one quality of leadership– standing firm in the face of opposition to a deeply held moral principle– in this case nonviolence.
My child requested me to buy a holiday gift for a friend. A video game with a violent title (includes the word assassins) and content, despite its otherwise good qualities of problem solving and even historical education. I refused, saying I understand people by age 13 in our culture have watched untold numbers of murders in all forms of media, but that I was not going to spend my money on something that includes it in a form of entertainment. I provided alternative gifts, but there was no deterring this willful person. I do not mention this to embarrass my teen or claim moral superiority over anyone.
It feels important to me to observe the arguments:
1) “The good guys are doing the killing of people in history who have done bad things.” (Hmmm, where have I heard that before?)
2) “You are not the last peaceful person on Earth, so it doesn’t matter.”
3) “Everyone I talked to thinks you’re crazy, Mom. It’s not more violent than any movie I see.”
I would like to acknowledge I am not perfect in screening every last thing my child watches, nor do I have the illusion I could be with all the devices available to her.
It seems to me sometimes a firm NO is a leadership quality, and something in me feels validated by standing my ground for what I believe.
For anyone interested in learning about possible links between violent video games and behavior, reading this was enlightening for me:
These studies show that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. The effects occurred for males and females of all ages, regardless of what country they lived in. So the question then becomes why people and journalists repeatedly shrug off this compelling body of work.
If you would like to support me toward funding my leadership learning, I invite you to check out and/or share my campaign here. Thank you!