This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

April 28, 1999

A Shift in Values

248 days until January 1, 2000

The recent Columbine High School shootings in Colorado highlighted something we have long believed: it is not good for us—especially children—to be exposed to violence that exists on television, movies, and video and computer games. Psychologists and social scientists consistently report a correlation between exposure to violence and violent behavior.

Throughout history, significant emotional events have changed attitudes, behaviors, and social mores. As a society, we have become numb to violence. It's all around us—locally, nationally, internationally—from our own communities to genocidal slaughters in distant lands. Some recent events have exploded into our senses, causing more people to want to get to the root of all this to change the causal factors. If enough of a critical mass of citizens cry "enough!" . . . .

Have we been shaken deeply enough? Maybe. Maybe not. We may have to endure even more senseless violence before we reach the critical mass that will begin to change how violence is glorified—or even accepted—in our society. There are other trends influencing possible outcomes.

The current issue of American Demographics Magazine reports that women in America are becoming more religious. The study, conducted for the Center for Gender Equality, revealed that 75 percent of women feel religion is very important in their lives, compared with 69 percent who gave that answer in 1996. Does this trend indicate a strengthened moral movement that might rise to overcome the permissiveness of violence?

Religious organizations can exert a powerful influence over advertisers, retailers, and movie theaters. Boycotts, letter-writing campaigns, and similar efforts can have an impact. We sense that we're approaching critical mass. The movement may not start very soon; one or more man-made disasters like Columbine may have to shake us up before the societal shift begins.

If the popularity of violence in our society diminishes, what will replace it? We see another trend developing. Motivational rallies have returned. These upbeat programs attract thousands. Thought leaders like Oprah Winfrey refuse to glorify violence, opting to promote positive things instead. Perhaps there is a better way . . .

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