The Angry American!
It isn't anger itself that disturbs me so much, but the way in which it manifest itself today, upon our daily lives, in our homes, on our streets, in the media and in our conversation. Anger can be the necessary deterrent to evil and injustice and move us from complacency to action, however, it is as though simple breathing has become enough to send us over the proverbial edge.Civility has lost its luster and leaves us to engage in a discourse fed, instead, from poor diets. Dialogue and discourse are not activities to elicit praise or the reward of like agreement. They are born for a more noble purpose; to stir ideas in the minds of men that we might be more enlightened from the exchange of ideas rather than wallow alone in self ignorance. American conversation seems to be weaving a new language from the thread of an angry fabric.
" When you squeeze an orange you get orange juice because that is what is inside an orange. When you are squeezed, you get what is inside of you." Wayne Dwyer.
There is much to be angry about in America today and it is not my intent to diminish our responsibility in addressing grievances, however, anger simply incites a discourse, absent any purpose, except to vent the passion imprisoned by our feeling. Feeling serves us well in the launching of an exercise, but a sprint does little when engaged in a marathon. Feeling, tempered by our reason breeds civility and a mutual respect for ideas. Civility helps us to direct our anger, at the right thing, in the right measure, at the right time and in the right way.
We are assisted in America, by a media only to happy to incite and feed our feeling rather than to incite us to any thinking. After all, a feeding frenzy makes for grand entertainment and that is the purpose of their enterprise.
I watered it in fears
night and morning with my tears
and I sunned it with smiles
and soft deceitful wiles. from " The poison tree" by Robert Blake
Anger is an emotion whose resolve is determined from what it's fed. When it feeds indiscriminately it suffers from indigestion and is prone to regurgitated discontent.
"Two wolves struggling inside us all. One is angry and one is not. Which one wins? The one we choose to feed"
Today, religious leaning, party preference, cutural issues and a host of endless differences color our exchanges with the evidence of where we feed. We are courting the abolition of civility from discourse in favor of ridicule, insults and criticisms, which free us from the tedious labor demanded by respect, courtesy and thinking. Today we are applauding anger as though it were a badge of commendation. We are celebrating it in music, in entertainment, from complicity in character assaults given feet through gossip, from satire and ridicule unrestrained by good taste and flourishing in the freedom granted by free speech. The louder we scream, the righter we seem. I do not advocate censorship, however, employing personal discretion within our freedoms, does not impose censorship, it protects us from the need of it. Civility distinguishes between the two and fosters a breeding ground for people to talk again with a kindness that establishes neighbors instead of adversaries.
and it grew both day and night
until it bore an apple bright
and my foe beheld it shine
and he knew that it was mine
and into my garden stole
when the night had veiled it's pole
in the morning, glad I see
my foe outstretched beneath the tree. William Blake, "The poison tree".
The evening news in America does not pretend to promote civility. It advocates the choosing of a side, the joining of a team. It ask that we arm ourselves in angry rhetoric which we can regurgitate throughout the week. It ask that we subscribe to some self appointed, evening guru who scours the american landscape, analyzes the horizon and then spoon feeds us, whatever they think that we should think. They decide the battle of the moment, the item of the day, the cause of the week or the issue that wasn't an issue until they made it an issue. They predict our tomorrows and paint our thoughts with the fear of an impending doom less we empty our minds and swallow their poison. They do not ask us to think, they ask us to act because they have done the thinking for us. When did we come to so detest, the origin of an opposing idea? How did we come to so fear an opinion not born within our own minds? When did we loose respect for discourse that did not run parallel to our own course? We are loosing respect for one another in America. It is reserved, not for honest thought, but, given one another as reward for agreement. Civility isn't given as courtesy for the enterprize of thinking; It is given as a courtesy for thinking like the team; For upholding the value and the ideaology of chosen affiliation. Independence is no longer evidence of someone thinking for themselves, it is a refusal to fall in line with the enlightened ones who have been defined and given marching orders from a favorite evening guru or talk radio host that stirs our feeling with such precision that we enlist in the voluntary servitude of spreading their appointed propaganda.
Anger is not nutritional food for discourse. It initiates decay and rottens the apple. Such simple complicity at the bottom reveals the larger state of our condition across America. Conversations are disingenuous, disrespectful and colored by the bigotry of self enlarged opinions, borrowed from which ever book we drink or the misplaced pride of an ideology which presupposes the correct position. They are reminiscent of attitudes belonging to the dark ages when witch hunts occupied the little minds of people with little else to do. Responding to questions with ridicule and disrespect is not a reflection of superior intellect or cleverness; It simply reveals, like the orange, a content for all the world to see. We should not be engaged in the exercise of choosing teams, falling in with sides or affiliations that endevor to do our thinking for us. We should be engaged in an exercise which welcomes anyone who dares to think, unrestrained by the imprisonment imposed by a selected team. We should respect and extend civility to the individual enterprise of one who chooses instead, " to think for themselves".
It is time for us all, to give ourselves a good squeeze and examine our content. To survey our anger and to ask ourselves, is my content worthy to respond to that which confronts me, in this moment, with the right measure, aimed at the right person, for the right reason and in the right way! Civility does not diminish our opinion; Rather, it breaks solidarity with anger and fear and chooses to dance in the light of individual courage. Civility is the evidence that thinking is nothing to be afraid of, indeed, let us fear instead, those who endeavor to do it for us. Thinking is the most elegant, the most courageous, the most promising of all human endeavors. The rising anger in America suggest that we have come to value agreement above the excercise of thought. Perhaps our American pursuit of convenience now extends to even individual thought. If we can simply turn on our favorite evening news, we can wake, sixty minutes later, assured that our thinking has been brought up to date. Perhaps it is time to give a good squeeze to what we're listening too. Perhaps, whats inside, isn't really us at all. Just some nobody, without an orchard of their own!