I have spent the better part of my adult life feeding my own anger. It has become an unfortunate go-to response for me. And really, the more trivial and meaningless the trigger, the more upset I tend to get. It’s not usually the big stuff. For me, it’s spilling the coffee, dropping the greasy spatula onto the kitchen floor, or not being able to find my keys. I hate losing things. I can get screaming-angry because an 18-year-old, true-freshman made an unwise decision on the football field. The cat, the dog, the news, the politics, the world in general have all been food in the sustenance of this intense, scary, negative, unpleasant response to things that I find annoying- anger.
My anger has been more frequently and acutely active since Donald Trump became our president. Funny, before it was the white, disaffected, male Trump voters who were angry and outraged. Now, I suppose they’re all happy and I’m just angrier.
It is truly amazing how all-in-one Trump is as the embodiment of so much that I find utterly repugnant. I don’t know that I could have invented a more complete caricature. He blusters like a carnival barker with a healthy dose of bad comedian; he calls just about everyone names; he holds no value in diplomacy, and he appears to want to nuke North Korea into oblivion (hopefully it’s just a tactic, and if so, that it doesn’t backfire on him). He’s a classic narcissist and arrogant as all get out. He makes bold accusations that are absent any supporting facts, and will insist he’s right even when there is evidence to the contrary (like his record-breaking inaugural attendance). I feel like his presence in the White House is fire beneath the cauldron of civil unrest in which brews the tensions between white supremacists and minorities, liberals and conservatives, pro-choicers and anti-abortionists, gun control advocates and gun rights proponents, Christians and Muslims, immigrants and the communities into which they have settled, etc. He clumsily treads upon long-standing ties with allies and believes in some extreme, alt-right, bizarro world where I suppose the rich ultimately rule by oligarchy. And he’s fat.
I've learned that anger is a peace-time luxury. Its potential for destruction means it needs a tighter lid kept on it when the immedate circumstances are more precarious. Lately, it sometimes looks like we Americans are under a kind of cultural siege. It makes no more sense to me that Donald Trump is our President than it does that Stephen Paddock senselessly opened fire on a crowd of country music concert-goers with nary a clue as to how or why. In both cases, something stinks; I’m just not sure what. Regardless, anger feels like an inappropriate, weak, or even dangerous response.
We know of the indisputable efforts by Russia to hack our last election and of their use of social media to spread propaganda that was designed to foster deeper division among us. And we know for a fact that Trump was unquestionably Russia’s man, the one they felt furthered their agenda. I can only imagine Fox News’ response if the same had been true of Barack Obama.
I suppose a more suitable response than blind anger might be to look deeper. What could Russia’s endgame be in trying to divide us further? The trajectory of attack is always toward war, and it is to war that it will lead if allowed to run its course. But war with whom? War with Russia? War with some other? Or war with ourselves? Examining what Russia has done so far, it seems obvious which of these ends it seeks to advance. They want us fighting each other. Might they still be actively pursuing their goal?
I suppose it could just be paranoia, the fear that hides behind anger. Most conspiracy theories aren’t true any way, right, or so we’re told? But some big ones have been. There has clearly been a cover-up surrounding the assassination of JFK, and until someone can counter the claims by a growing number of engineers who say that World Trade Center 7, a building into which no planes flew, could not have collapsed in such perfect, controlled symmetry due to a couple of office fires, I’m going to continue to cry foul about 9/11. We watched our nation fall under attack near the beginning of Bush Jr.’s presidency. Hyper-vigilance on the part of every American may be needed at this time, along with a pre-determination to be skeptical and cautious the next time we find ourselves under the pressure of attack. Let’s decide now not to let our fear frighten us into knee-jerk, angry retaliation, or worse. We the people must agree to let facts rather than rumor, and wisdom rather than emotions rule the day. And that’s not easy for me, the guy who gets bent out of shape if someone goes out of sequence at the 4-way stop.
I invite taking a collective breath and getting clear about something I feel bears re-establishing: fellow American, you are not my enemy and I am not yours. We may disagree about much, but we are brethren. I may not like your sports team, your politics, or the beer you drink but I have zero interest in taking up arms against you over any of it. Let’s never buy into any argument that frames American against American, no matter who’s mouth asserts that it is so. We are better than that. We have been through one civil war and it was the bloodiest. Not one of us deserves to endure the mass suffering that can only come from another one. We must remember that wars, even civil ones, are easy to start and hard to stop. Let’s not let ourselves become Syria. Who among us would benefit from that? The answer is no one… among us. Peace.