Mass Shootings In America, The Toxic Leadership That is Influencing Hate and Death
Saturday, August 31st marked the opening day of the 2019 college football season. Fans all over the United States gathered with fellow alumni to cheer for their favorite teams. The opening day of college football season shares an interesting statistic with its cousins: the opening day of the NFL season, The Super Bowl, The College Football Championship and The Final Four. According to a study conducted by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Program, televised sports can reduce crime by as much as 25%. "Alternative leisure activities and entertainment can substitute for criminal activity, and the benefits may be substantial," said Hannah Laqueur, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of California and a researcher with the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. That is until August 31, 2019!
Opening Day of college football circa 2019 saw yet another mass shooting in Midland-Odessa, TX.
According to local reports there were seven fatalities and twenty injured including three officers. This shooting marks the second time in less than a month that Texas has been impacted by mass gun violence. Exactly four weeks prior, 22 people were killed and 24 more were injured when a man opened fire in an El Paso Walmart. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks such incidents, there have been 280 mass shootings in 2019. A mass shooting is defined as an event where at least four people were injured or killed excluding the perpetrators. To date, including this shooting, 602 people have died in mass shootings and 2,356 have been injured. While the United States is far from leading the world in mass shootings we have trended at a higher rate since 2016.
This increase in mass shootings and coincides with the toxicity that has the United States culture in a stranglehold. Ron Kaufman stated, “The culture of an organization is like a river. It can be fluid, strong and consistent, serving as lubricant while guiding its members in the right direction. In contrast a river can become stale and toxic, silently killing those who drink at its shore.” Kaufman’s description fits the current condition of the United States of America. All of the focus of our country’s leadership is concentrated on the behavior of the Executive or President. Rarely does any coverage focus on the impact toxic leadership has a grip on our country as a whole.
Toxic leaders can effect a nation’s culture negatively by engaging in self-destructive activities that compromise his or her reputation and our traditional values due to his consistent failure to conform to the normative standards of the executive office. Toxic leaders also underwrite or ignore the noncompliance behavior of subordinates. Control through culture is so powerful because once these values are internalized; they become part of values of the leaders’ base who follow those values without question. It is through the control of values, norms, and behaviors that toxic leaders damage countries.
Mass shootings have been a part of American life long before this current administration arrived. Likewise this administration did not invent toxic leadership. However, more than ever the perpetrators of mass shootings identify with the rantings of a toxic leader. People whom I’ve never had a cross encounter in more than twenty years are identifying with hateful jargon or dog whistles. The remnants of this administration will remain long after it transitions power. It is up to the incoming administration to bring ethics and dignity back to the executive branch. It will also be incumbent upon the new administration to communicate a vision that is all inclusive.