Aren't you getting tired of people being outraged about, well, everything? I sure am.
And this means I'm getting tired of myself, because I've got a hair-trigger Outrage Gun that doesn't go a day without firing self-righteous bullets of condemnation.
Driving around today, channel surfing among various satellite radio news/talk channels, plenty of topics pushed my outrage button.
I can't stand Republican grandstanding on how Obama is handling the Libya situation. Right-wing talk show host Lars Larson said "The only good cougar is a dead cougar." Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is going ahead with his union-busting bill even though a judge said "Stop." Global warming deniers are holding up efforts needed to move us toward a cleaner, greener world.
Outrageous! I thought about writing a blog post rant on several of these topics. Then it hit me...
What I was really outraged about was all this outrage. It never ends.
Wherever you turn these days -- web sites, radio, TV, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers -- it seems like someone is extremely upset at what someone else is doing. Worse, the outraged individual feels like his or her emotional uproar is absolutely justified.
This is crazy. Way out of the ordinary.
I've lived through some pretty insane times during my sixty-two years; the Vietnam War brought out hugely intense fights between people with opposing views of the conflict. But this is different -- a pervasive societal polarization where Right and Wrong are seen as opposite shores with no bridge between them.
Choose your side. You've got to be on one bank or the other. No straddling permitted. Everyone who isn't 100% with you is fair game to be targeted by an outrage blast.
(Note to Lars Larson: most cougars should be left alone, though some may need to be killed. It depends on the situation. Wildlife management, like almost all significant social problems, takes a lot of careful study in order to figure out the best course of action. Simplistic platitudes like "the only good cougar is a dead cougar" are useless.)
Today our mail was supposed to be delivered after I'd had it held while my wife and I were away on a three-day trip. The woman who handles our rural route must have failed to notice the resume date I put on the "hold mail" form.
This has happened before. When I peeked in our empty mail box at 5 pm, I knew that it'd happened again. I started to feel an almost pleasurable sense of outrage well up in my easily-offended psyche.
"Geez! Now I'll have to stand in line at the post office tomorrow to pick up our mail! Why, that will take several minutes out of my day! I should complain to..."
Fortunately, the side of me that's been getting outraged about outrage kicked in. I realized that our mail deliverer almost surely is overworked and underpaid. She's under a lot of pressure every day. It's easy to miss a resume delivery date on one of the many mailboxes she's responsible for. Mostly she does a good job.
No big deal, I said to myself.
It isn't the end of the world if we have to wait another day to find out how many solicitations from animal rights organizations and political causes we got over the weekend (that's 90% of our mail, now that nobody writes snail mail letters any more).
I'm not going to go on a complete outrage fast. Getting upset with injustices and wrongdoings is natural. That's how things change for the better -- when enough people say "enough is enough!"
But I want to be more like the Britishers I hear debating on the BBC when I occasionally tune my car's satellite radio in an overseas direction.
They rarely raise their voices. They don't interrupt each other. They make their points clearly and calmly, then listen to what their opponent has to say. Outrage isn't in evidence.
Now, I'm sure people in Britain get excited, scream at each other, hurl insults, spout epithets. I doubt, though, that outrage comes to a boil at the same low temperature as in the United States.
I'm hoping that more and more Americans start to feel the way I do: outraged about our propensity for outrage. Somehow we've got to learn how to communicate reasonably with each other more, and shout angrily at each other less.