Angry is the WordPress prompt of the day, and I started this by thinking of all the things I’m angry about, then deleted it all because it’s not really angry I feel, it’s more heartsick at the anger all around.
When did optimistic Americans become so angry we’re seriously considering electing a petulant 12-year old with a terrible comb-over and oompa-loompa colored spray tan to the presidency? Love or loathe President Obama, one must admit he’s never embarrassed us on the world stage, carrying himself with easy grace and intellectual curiosity, always the rational adult in the room. I cringe at the notion of Donald Trump representing my country.
When did we become so angry and apparently mistake-free-in-our-parenting that when a tragic accident occurs in a Cincinnati zoo, we instantly demonize the already traumatized parents? Are we so angry at ourselves that we hold a man’s past against him, rather than marveling over and applauding the apparent turn-around he’s done with his life? Isn’t that one of the promises of America, that one who strives for it always gets a second chance? While I’m on the subject, all those with nothing in their past they’d be embarrassed to have revealed, please stand up now so I can count you. Full disclosure: I am not standing.
It’s like an infectious disease, anger, one sneeze and it’s everywhere and everyone has it. Paul and I were talking and indulging in a bit of the mom-bashing: wasn’t she watching her child? Then yesterday a friend posted something about toddlers and their propensity for vanishing and a little chill and a wave of shame swept through my body with the memory of my own, solitary child disappearing into the racks of clothes when we were shopping, discovered only when her giggling at me freaking the hell out gave her away. Doesn’t every parent have such a tale? But for the grace of God, there go I. Maybe that mother needs our compassion and a commiserating hug, parent to parent, much more than our disdain. Maybe rather than being angry at her, we could instead be grateful for the lucky escapes our own children have had, for all the bad things that didn’t happen.
Many are angry about the death of Harambe, the gorilla. I am sad he had to die, but I think maybe we can all be glad the little boy is ok, right? A human child with his life ahead of him; maybe he’ll cure cancer, and I want him to have that chance. I’m not going to question the decision made by the zoo, because I am many years away from my zoology degree and thus, I don’t get a vote. They made a hard choice in a difficult situation and fortunately, a little boy is still alive because they did.
Anger is easy. It’s the go-to emotion when one feels wounded, because it requires no sense of responsibility, no self-awareness, no empathy. It’s cheap that way. It’s Donald Trump saying the press is unkind when they expect an answer to legitimate questions, it’s vilifying a mother we do not know personally when a horrible accident happens, it’s blaming others for our misfortunes instead of taking stock of ourselves and the role we played in our own heartbreak. It’s the knee-jerk reaction, rather than the well-reasoned plan.
When we were children, we might have been told to take a deep breath or count to ten before we reacted in anger; somehow we’ve forgotten the value of this. Social media allows us to let fly all the vile vitriol that flies into our heads immediately, rather than letting go of that head-full of steam on the car ride home, the walk to the mailbox, or the furious scrubbing of floors. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of fights that started on my last campus because of social media snark. When did we as a society forget that every thought that enters our heads doesn’t necessarily need to be expressed?
Ultimately, on the topic of Angry/Anger I am asking my fellow Americans: next time you have a snarky thought about the idiocy of another human being, count to ten first before tweeting, and think how you’d feel on the receiving end of it and, when you enter the voting booth come November take a deep breath, count to ten, and calmly consider how much you want an angry child negotiating with Vladimir Putin, dining with Queen Elizabeth, or clutching nuclear launch codes in his tiny hands.