In 1920, immediately before passage of the Woman Suffrage amendment to the United States Constitution, the League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Lane Catt and her colleagues. The crusade for women’s voting rights spanned four generations, but the actual back story began long before the advent of recorded history.
Throughout most of human history and prehistory, women’s roles were played out mostly within their families. In public, especially in leadership positions, women’s roles were almost entirely subservient to those played by men. Before the advent of modern technology, most work involved physical muscle and physical skills developed almost exclusively by men and boys, and their preparation for adult behavior was reflected in physical sports and games. Though the Old Testament refers to the standard human life span as three score years and ten, the actual life expectancy was less than thirty years throughout the ancient world, which meant that women had to specialize intensely on child-bearing and child-rearing if the human species expected to survive, let alone flourish.
Recently a friend I have not seen in 48 years sent me a video clip of an artist creating a visual to go with the Star-Spangled Banner being sung just before a basketball game. The clip was shown on virtual channel kshb-tv. I don’t know who was playing in that game or where it took place, but the clip is pretty astounding. The first time I watched it, I could not figure out what the artist was painting, but at the very end it all came clear. You can check it out below.
Two of my favorite authors since 2010 are Dan Pink and Steven Pinker. Pinker, of course, is the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker got that title from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, and we appropriated the phrase for this website.
Pink and Pinker are kindred spirits. Before I retired, I used to show the You Tube clip below in my introductory course in Leadership Studies at Ripon College. It provides a good hint at Pink’s approach to human motivation, it covers some very useful information, and it’s a hoot to watch.
From its earliest days in the 1990s, our nonprofit sponsor, the Wisconsin Leadership Institute (WLI), has enjoyed a supportive and productive relationship with Camp Manito-wish YMCA of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. Manito-wish is a YMCA camp, founded in 1919, featuring a substantial emphasis on collaborative leadership behaviors. In 2008, when the WLI published its curriculum for schools and youth groups (Leading Together: Foundations of Collaborative Leadership), Manito-wish people contributed to the research, the writing, and the testing of all the exercises and games. The team was led by Laurie Frank, a Manito-wish mainstay and lead author of the curriculum.
Our nonprofit sponsor, the Wisconsin Leadership Institute, is getting involved in a project to support youth leadership development through sports-related activities and metaphors. The central aims of this new project will be to leverage the tension between competition and collaboration in sports; and to support the educational and developmental lessons of winning without arrogance, losing without shame, and working together for the sake of the team, the organization, and the community. In this light, we could consider Our Better Angels to be something like a pep rally for the never-ending parade of future generations as they compete, collaborate, win, lose, and help each other help each other. We’ll keep you posted as our new project emerges.
Shortly after the 2018 New Year showed up, Nick Kristof wrote in the the New York Times that, contrary to widespread belief, “2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity.”
Kristof’s point echoes the gist of Steven Pinker’s monumental study, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker and Kristof both point out that we have come to doubt the goodness of human nature and to fear the worst among us thanks to the incessant reporting of violent, destructive, murderous, and just downright nasty behavior in most of our mass media news coverage.
When I was teaching leadership studies at Ripon College, I made a habit of asking students in my intro course how many had ever witnessed a murder. Over 33 years of teaching that course twice a year, only one person out of some 3,000 ever raised a hand. Then I would ask how many had seen at least 50 murders on TV, and every hand in every course in every semester went up.
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Our Sponsor, the WLI
Our Better Angels (OBA) was created in 2015 as a qualified subsidiary of the Wisconsin Leadership Institute (WLI). The WLI itself was created as an initiative of the...
Our Inspiration, the IBC
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Our Partner, The CLN
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Featured Good Cause: Kiwanis
Kiwanis International supports leadership development at the middle-school, high-school, college, and adult levels. Check out their website.
2020 Vision Project
In 2020, we celebrated six historic anniversaries related to the work of the better angels of the human spirit: The one hundredth anniversary of passage of the Woman Suffrage Amendment to...
Our Better Angels will showcase a wide array of books and other educational materials in our Angel Library. OBA offers educational video programs in the Leadership Skills and...