I have a temper. I suspect it’s inherited; I offer a tip of the hat to dear old dad.
Being uncomfortable with confrontation, I try to control the impulse to explode. This isn’t always helpful as it produces a surly muttering version of me. So when I need to yell, I yell—in my room or in the car. In private.
As someone whose temper sometimes flares, I work very hard not to employ anger as a weapon. Mine is more about frustration anyway. Common irritants include lousy customer service, my aching back, challenging bureaucracy, bouts of loneliness and the rise of dis- and misinformation. Hard to blame any one person for all those feelings.
I’ve been reading about American anger, especially as it applies to the electorate. You know the mantra: We feel insecure. We live in unpredictable, scary times. Oh, and don’t try telling anyone it’s always been this way. People have short memories as well as short fuses.
What bothers me is so much voter anger is fueled by massive quantities of misinformation and significant misdirection. Too many people are led to believe “X” is both important and true or, maybe worse, they don’t care if it’s true because it feels significant. They are willing to direct their fury at identified bogeymen because it’s both easier and emotionally satisfying.
Look: Politics in America have always been nasty and voters have often fallen for dirty tricks. Nothing new. During the 1828 Presidential campaign, the accusations about John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson (mostly Jackson) included murder, adultery, corruption and sex for hire. Adams was horrified at the tenor of the stories and avoided the dirt. Jackson, angered by charges against him, eagerly participated. Jackson won.
Anger in politics? Also not new. Hitler’s rise to power was built on his ability to foment anger by identifying the supposed villains who had robbed the German people of greatness. Mideast politics seem to be a cycle of repression, anger, change and repression.
Not new but still depressing in America in 2016. Those of us who believe in evolution keep hoping human beings have progressed. Imagine a world where people demonstrate a willingness to come together to create practical solutions to difficult problems. Now imagine a world where the worst of humankind keeps triumphing over the best. Which world do you want?
Anger can unite. It can encourage action. It can bring about change. It can also incite violence or bring people under the sway of a charismatic demagogue. Public anger can turn on a dime, which is why we must take care to manage it carefully.