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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Where are the Leaders?

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

I was taken by Matthew McConaughey’s comments last week on the terrible tragedy that occurred in his hometown of Uvalde, TX. Delivered from the press briefing room in the White House, I found McConaughey’s comments to be heartfelt and filled with sincere emotion. Like many, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in recent days reflecting on the state of our nation and the plight of American society with respect to gun violence.

While going through this process I came across an Op-Ed piece in about the subject of leadership as it relates to the current condition of our society. I’ve reprinted the article below and have provided the link to McConaughey’s full presentation in the event you would like to review it.

Matthew McConaughey's Message of "Real Leadership" is the Truth All Leaders Need to Hear

By Nick Hobson

The only thing more shocking and horrific than the Uvalde mass shooting is the fact that in the last 2 weeks since the incident, there has been a running total of 38 additional mass shooting-related deaths.

America is in crisis. In the last 15 years, as we've watched the number of shootings climb and climb, there's been the hope: This time will be different, this is where we max out - where we hit the peak in the graph of running death counts.

But here we are once more. Believing that the shock and horror this time, surely, must lead to less killing of innocent lives next time.

Matthew McConaughey took to the White House podium in the press briefing room to call out the irrational, wishful thinking of America's leaders and general public. McConaughey, a native of Uvalde and gun owner himself, recognizes that the issue, in his mind, is failed leadership.

People's trust in leaders and in government institutions is eroding. Now is the time, according to McConaughey, for leaders to act and to bring back values-based leadership to America and the world. No more political grandstanding. No more petty infighting. We are faced with a "life preservation problem," says McConaughey, and human-centric leadership is the only way out.

A number of times throughout the 20-minute speech, McConaughey gets visibly angry. At one point, when sharing the tragic story of nine-year-old Maite Rodriguez, he pounds the podium desk with his fist, choking back tears.

Anger can be good. It's a functional emotional state that we've evolved as a social species. When used correctly, it propels and compels us to respond to moral violations by coordinating our behaviors and demanding change.

Right now, leaders need to harness the collective anger from the masses and get people to act. Leaders, you need to use the outrage wisely and responsibly in committing to make a difference.

America is split. But more than the real divide between political affiliations, it's the perceived partisan polarization that's driving the imaginary wedge between us. And it's making us physically and mentally sick.

Yet, as McConaughey points out, there is a middle ground, "the place where most of us Americans live, especially on this issue ... I promise you, America, we are not as divided as we're being told we are."

In complex societies and organizations, all sub-affiliations tend to ladder up to a single "superordinate identity" - the thing that connects everyone. When made salient, it helps to cultivate tolerance of differences between social groups and reduce prejudice.

McConaughey urges leaders to "grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations." To him, like the majority of us in this case, we're connected by something bigger than party allegiance: the desire to protect the lives of future generations.

Leaders, it's time to start pounding the desk. Keep pounding until something gets done.

The link to McConaughey’s full remarks can be found in the following link:

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