Rage Against The Machine

I want this to be a mantra for me for most daily annoyances: “I refuse to be constantly outraged.”

Now, let me caveat it with that there are some things you should be outraged by…like the tragedies that occurred this weekend. We should mourn the loss of life and the loss of innocence, and we should rightly be outraged that a person used violent acts as an expression of racist, xenophobic beliefs. We should also be outraged that this event will be another data point that all sides will use in their respective decision matrix to support/oppose certain policy positions.

Every election, at least since I’ve been old enough to vote, has been “the most important election of our lifetime”. But is it really? My side has lost elections, but the Sun still rose in the East and sat in the West. We may have grumbled about the politics, but we made it through. The “other” side has lost elections, but the Sun still rose in the East and sat in the West. They grumble about the politics, but we will continue to make it through.

“We are at war!” is a phrase I heard by a campaign official at a GOP breakfast this weekend. I’ve heard that phrase quite often–usually in reference to Socialism–but it has given me pause. Are we calling our fellow members “the enemy” and we are supposed to wage war against them because they basically believe differently than us on how government dollars should be allocated?? These sharp rhetorical barbs get cheap points, but the cost is the continued division.

Both sides use their perpetual outrage machines to stoke the fires of discontent among the public. “You won’t believe what President Trump tweeted!” “Can you believe what Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats are saying??” There’s the expectation of outrage, and if you aren’t outraged enough (or at all), then obviously you’re complicit to the offending statement and your patriotism is called into question.

Can you be irritated or frustrated by an inflammatory statement? Sure. It’s human nature. Should you be outraged because right-wing talk radio or the left-wing social media told you to be? Ehhhhhh…..maybe keep your powder dry. Be passionate about your causes and candidates. Fight for what you believe is right, but let’s refuse to allow others to exploit our emotions to advance self-serving political agendas. Refuse to be constantly outraged.

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Benevolus
Benevolus

To the extent that vicious attacks were done before, it was sort of under-the-table, like the Watergate burglary (was supposed to be), or LBJ whispering some threat into an ear. I think most who were aware of these things realized the danger of doing it openly and/or letting it become ‘normal’, because how do you turn it off? I’ve been reading a ‘democratic’ website since 2001, and there was a LOT of conversation devoted back then to Limbaugh in particular whipping up his dittoheads into a fury against all kinds of enemies both real and imagined. What is the opposition… Read more »

IrishPat
IrishPat

Well said Nate.

IrishPat
IrishPat

Well said Nathan.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” Toni Morrison RIP

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

The outrage is coming from our elected officials who increasingly do not respect or listen to the citizens they serve. They make outrageous claims, mostly untrue, and get repetition of their soundbites in the can’t-be-bothered-to-just-report-news media. I believe has built the current response of outrage simply because politely asking for reason or consideration is no longer working for most people, so they use the same rhetoric style in desperation.

bethebalance
bethebalance

Humans predominantly feel, with thought/cognition secondary. So, while any rhetoric without emotional appeal will have no persuasive power, any rhetoric with only emotional appeal relies on a lack of thoughtfulness. I can’t throw any stones in this regard, but I can at least paint rocks, and offer that every emotion- whether outrage, fear, love, etc.- is best when paired with thoughtful review. We have more to our brain than just the lizard part. If we want politicians or media to step up their games, it’s up to those who consume the rhetoric to demand more thoughtfulness.