Posts Tagged ‘choosing to be angry’

sadness-anger1My good friend Tony May began a discussion today in our writing group on the subject of “global anger.” He voiced his concern over the way violence seemed to be escalating, even in small towns that up until now, were simple sleepy hollows. He asked for ideas on why we thought it was happening, and I was surprised at the response that poured out of me.

I wanted to share it here (with apologies to Tony for running with his idea):

If there’s a cause of the escalating violence in our world, it has more to do with the isolation people feel in their anger, rather than any particular thing that’s causing their anger. People are losing their sense of community, and with that comes a fear of losing control and a lack of trust. Individual rights to vent anger freely, have taken over the rights of others who are the target of that anger, or simply witnesses to it. Everyone is affected by it.

Too few people are willing to cut anyone any slack these days. They want to be angry because it makes them feel in control, or superior, or powerful, and most definitely, righteous. They’ve learned to take pleasure in cutting others down to size. They are more eager to believe the worst of people than they are to give them the benefit of the doubt. It explains the success of tabloids. People are more afraid of looking like fools for being “too kind” than looking unkind for judging too hardshly or unjustly. Suspicion and paranoia reign supreme, and the media has caused it to spread like a disease.

When we see educated people looking down their noses at the undereducated, or people hating another ethnic group simply because they’ve congregated in large numbers in one area and opened businesses selling their own ethnic food, food, and clothing; when you have religious groups who believe that prayer brings personal and financial success, so anyone who fails in that area must deserve it because they can’t be living as God intended; when you have older people resenting younger ones because they lack the life experience to appear so self-assured, or when you have people thinking less of you because somewhere along the line you failed at the big “American Dream;” when you have people ask you 1. what you do for a living? 2. where you live? 3. and what college and college team your kids have made it into? and you’re keenly aware that if your answers aren’t right, they stop listening; when your success or failure is measured by your children’s success or failure, and kids value their parents on the basis of “what they’ve achieved,” or “what they own;” and parenthood becomes just one more area where you feel you have to compete; when the “have nots” are assumed to be lazy and undeserving; when people are so effing scared to be honest about their feelings for fear of how others will judge them, well, that’s when you end up with the mess you see right now.

Eventually, it won’t necessarily be the anger behind a gun that will cause deaths. It will be the anger we hold onto that may as well kill us outright. It can become the reason for some people’s existence – a way to stand their ground, their swords drawn and ready for dangers they perceive will come their way. Letting that anger fester and build is a conscious choice, just as they say being happy is a conscious choice.

In the final analysis, all we can control is our own reactions to the shit life hands us. If we can’t learn to put things into perspective, and hope the next generation follows our lead, then I fear that someday, Mad Max’s world won’t seem all that far-fetched.


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