Last week, the world bore witness to yet another senseless mass shooting, this time, not in the United States but in New Zealand. When tragedies strike at the nation’s heart and soul, people look toward the nation’s top elected leader for guidance, for consolation, for empathy and for action. New Zealand’s Prime Minster, Jacinda Ardern, fulfilled those roles beautifully, compassionately, gracefully and with strength. What the world witnessed is the paradigm of a leader that, fortunately, humans are evolving to be. It might not seem like that in a world full of strongmen and growing authoritarianism, but there’s an argument to be made that humans are pre-wired to make a particular kind of society – a good one full of love, friendship, cooperation, and learning. In fact, there is an entire book dedicated to this premise by Nicholas Christakis, author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of A Good Society. Christakis makes a compelling case that traits such as the ones Prime Minister Ardern demonstrated are at the core of the ‘social suite.’ These are traits that make it possible for us to be a successful species and to keep the darkness at bay.
This photo of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern by Hagen Hopkins shows just how we as humans shine a light during the darkest times and captures the essence of great leadership behavior, the uplifting of others to let them know they are not alone.