Anger – Can It Lead To Resolution?

What’s gotten everyone so angry and why do people think that anger and hatred are going to make there lives better? Why do we attack each other (I’ve been guilty) instead of trying to reach out the olive branch, find common ground, compromise is some fashion, and move ahead in a manner beneficial to all?

Robb Pearson, just a few months ago, put together the Morristown ProAmerica rally which was meant to be a celebration of the United States, but quickly turned into an anti-illegal immigrant rally. Since this event he has changed his website and his outlook on some level. I’m sure he may still disagree with illegal immigrants being in the US, but he does not make that his main topic any longer. For this I have great respect for him. It was very apparent to me that he is an intelligent person and I didn’t understand how he had gotten mixed up in the anti-illegal immigrant crowd. (I’m sure there are some decent people there, but for the most part I have not seen it.). I point toward Robb because his most recent post is about the topic of negativity, gossip, and the types of action that do not result in a positive outcome. Given his transformation I believe he is someone we can all look to. In addition, he is very knowledgeable on the Bible and gives quotes from scripture that relate to this issue.

If we spend time bashing one another – leaving comments on blogs stating “you’re an idiot” and the like – how will we ever find a positive solution to problems that are indeed very important? The simple-minded name calling implies that the speaker/writer has exhausted all efforts to make a valid point and only has name-calling and profanity left to throw at their opponent.

So you may ask me why I’d call someone else a racist or a hate monger. This is simple. First I do not use the term racist lightly as I realize it is a very negative statement. If someone has exhibited either through speech, writing, or action that they are racist then I will take that example as my proof. It is not my belief that you should call someone a racist simply because they are anti-illegal immigrant. Further to this I do not believe I’ll use that term any longer unless it is explicitly called for.  I’m not above realizing that it’s very easy to contradict the whole premise of this post.  As far as hate speech or hate mongering I reserve that for those that use generic labels for a whole group in an effort to scare the public. An example of this would be calling undocumented workers “invaders.” The term “invader” implies this groups is seeking to cause us all harm which is simply not true.

That which I’ve explained above is truly a simple-minded less intelligent approach to deal with issues that affect oneselve. Using myself as an example I think that I’d been far more effective if I could understand the mindset of someone on the other side of this debate and try to speak to them while speaking to those that may share my views. However, I’m caught in a tough position. As these people gain more support I feel that I have to point out things about them that they do not want to say out in public or that they don’t make others aware of themselves. If a person makes racist comments online while leaving these comments out of their public speeches then I believe they are hiding who they really are and are essentially lying to their audience. If a person hates Hispanics and doesn’t want them in their neighborhood they should do themselves and their audience a favor and just tell them that. Leaving out your true feelings simply means you’re not being honest with anyone. This is true in the immigration debate just as it’s true with relationships. 

Some groups do hide their true intentions and feelings from their general audience in an effort to garner support.  As an example a white-supremacist group may fully realize that nobody is going to join their group if they are so out-in-the-open about their feelings.  However, if they tone down their message and feelings to those they wish to recruit while playing on the fears of these people they will garner more support.  Sadly, this tactic does work.  Just to be fair I’m sure it’s not only white-supremacist groups that enjoy the fruits of this tactic.

Getting back into the issue of anger the latest issue of the Utne Reader looks into it. An article in this month’s issue titled “All The Rage” starts off with these two paragraphs:

You are better than this. You are not a hostile person ,not a picker of fights. You’re a Boy Scout troop leader, Friend of the Library, PTA volunteer. Last year, you even called in and donated money during a National Public Radio fund drive.

And yet you have these moments when the worst parts of your nature com to the fore. Moments when the world seems to be conspiring against you and the frustration turns to rage.” (Utne Reader – Dec. 2007 – Page 37)

Further down the page it states the following:

Rage seems all the rage lately. Look around; it’s not difficult to conclude that the world is getting angrier and angrier. Our politics are angry, dominated by Bush-haters and Clinton-haters and even Nader-haters. Our popular music is angry, spiked with misogynistic rants and paranoid fantasies.

I believe this correlates with the current issue of immigration where you have people on both sides simply screaming and yelling rather than talking and coming to some conclusion. This type of behavior is counter productive and actually scares off those people on the fence about the issue.

From this same article I think we can learn a lot about anger looking at this statement:

It’s not just that people have such fury, it’s that they are so proud of their rage, so eager to broadcast it, so determined to assert their rage as a badge of their identity. I’m pissed off, therefore I matter.

This quote comes from Peter Wood’s book “A Bee in the Mouth; Anger in America Now.”

I believe this above statement is very true. The feeling that comes from being angry and letting others know is very much a type of instant gratification. If you can yell at, defame, intimidate, or demean your opponent then you feel as if you’ve won in some way. Even though these tactics truly have no bearing on the outcome of the actual issue you’re addressing. Will someone calling me an idiot effect a representatives decision on immigration? Of course not, and I have to do better to buy into this myself if I truly want to effect positive change.

Here’s a link to the article on the Notre Dame Magazine websiteNotre Dame:

“Why So Mad?
By Andrew Santella
A history of anger
Wood, in A Bee in the Mouth, argues that one of the most telling signs of a national problem with anger is the hostile tone of our political discourse. Wood calls it a new style of anger. “For the first time in our political history,” he writes, “declaring absolute hatred for one’s opponent has become a sign not of sad excess, but of good character.” As an example of political discourse that delights in its own vitriol, he cites Jonathan Chait’s 2003 essay in the New Republic, which begins, “I hate President George W. Bush.” For Wood, such language is typical of what he calls our “Angri-culture.” It’s not just that people have such fury, Wood argues, it’s that they are so proud of their rage, so eager to broadcast it, so determined to assert their rage as a badge of their identity. I’m pissed off, therefore I matter.

Wood recognizes the vein of anger that has always run through American history, but he may not do full justice to the venom and the power of historical fury. Contemporary wrath-mongers like Ann Coulter are loud and all too visible. But compare her to self-appointed avenger Preston Brooks, the South Carolinian who took a cane to Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor in 1856. Clearly, extreme fury is nothing new in American politics.”

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