Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Culture of Outrage

We live in a society where the only currency seems to be outrage. Every slight, every misstep, every word out of place is met by a cacophony of voices screaming at the top of their lungs about how they feel wronged. The biggest problem in this new culture is that if everything is outrageous, then nothing is.

Public outrage used to be reserved for things that really mattered. Let's take our current natural disaster as an example. When Katrina hit and lives where being lost and the response from the White House was tepid at best, there was real cause for outrage. When Harvey hit and the the first lady wore stilettos to visit Texas, the response was immediate outrage from the press and from social media. This is the state that we've devolved to. Our righteous energy is no longer reserved for the things that matter. It is now unleashed on every perceived wrongdoing from every living human being.

Did somebody famous short a server on a tip? let's persecute them on social media. Did someone wear the wrong color to a funeral? Let's persecute them on social media. Did someone use an inappropriate term when referring to native Americans, or African Americans or Italian Americans or whatever Americans? Let's persecute them on social media. The point is that we have lost the ability to be outraged. What really deserves our energy? The fact that there are statues to dead civil war generals, or the the fact that minorities are being killed in the streets by the people who are supposed to protect them? There is no difference in today's media landscape. It really is all about the next big thing.

Outrage sells, just like sex does. Everyone is yelling at the top of their lungs and the media just jumps to the person or story that seems like it has the most volume. Chris Rock used to tell a joke about gun ownership, where everyone has the right to own a gun, but it cost thousands of dollars to buy a bullet. Our outrage used to cost something. There were limited outlets to express outrage on a large scale. Now it costs nothing.

There's really not a whole lot to say about this. I wish I had some grand scheme to fix to the problem, but the cat is already out of the bag and frankly, it's only going to get worse. We, as a society have lost the ability to focus on the big picture. We are now focused on a micro level, looking for our own personal outrage. Sorry, that's not entirely true, we can focus on a real issue, but only for as long as it takes for the next Game of Thrones episode to appear. I bring up Game of Thrones, because there is the potential for an HBO show, from the makers of Game of Thrones, about the history of America if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. The backlash from an outraged citizenry has been swift and deafening.

Frankly, I'm OUTRAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Still Waters Run Deep

The events over the weekend in Virginia have shocked and outraged so many and rightfully so. It was a despicable act of a depraved individual that turned a protest march into a bloodbath. However, we, as a nation, should not be shocked by the lengths that individuals will sink to in order to prove a point. That hatred that fueled the murders in a Charleston church is the same hatred that fueled the attack in Charlottesville. This hatred runs deep and wide across this country. It always has and it always will. 

I've mentioned in a previous post that perhaps the election of Donald Trump would allow those on the left to take off their rose colored glasses and realize what country they are living in. Hopefully we are no longer living under the illusion that we have turned some corner or crested some hill on our way to racial and cultural harmony. We thought that the wounds of our past were beginning to finally heal and that we were ready to face a new reality. 

The election of Barack Obama was seen as the beginning of a new age on enlightenment. We had finally put to rest our ugly history. We were in a post racial society were people were judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. The only problem was that none of that was true, but the belief in that new America allowed those on the left to become complacent. Their work was done. We had reached the mountaintop that Dr. King spoke of. We had seen the promised land and it was rose colored and beautiful. In their eyes America would never look back. The big picture was complete and the details would take care of themselves. 

Those filled with the racial and cultural hatred, that is so deeply rooted in this country, did not see an age of enlightenment. They saw the election of an African-American to the highest office in the land as an affront to all they hold sacred. There was no complacency on the part of those who hated what they saw. Hatred doesn't take a day off. Hatred is never satisfied with the status quo. Hatred cannot be satiated. Hatred is a 24/7 job. In the age of Obama, those filled with hate may have less vocal and less visible, but make no mistake, they were always there. That is what those on the left cannot forget. 

I've said this before but it bears repeating, complacency is the enemy of victory. The fervor on the left is genuine at this point, but will that translate at the polls? That remains to be seen. We can quickly become comfortable with the status quo when our day to day lives seem to be sailing along peacefully. The hatred that people feel based on skin color, religion, nationality, sexual preference, etc. is very real and it's not going anywhere. I would ask those who are not a member of a discriminated class to remember how you felt when you heard about Charlottesville. I would ask those whose skin color does not immediately make them a target for racism, to think about how it feels to wake every day and know that you have a target on your back. 

The hatred in this country isn't going away. It won't be beaten by slogans about love, or light or fairly tales. The battle will continue forever. It is just as easy to teach hate as it is to teach love. Remember that fact, the next time life feels a little too comfortable.