Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is Anger the new Political Ideology?

There is a large current in the discourse in what we call the public square...
it is the current of anger, disillusionment, cynicism and even despair.
It is the tone of the discussion about economics, politics, corporations, even,or perhaps especially, talk about faith and religion. Much of it is infested with the kind of adrenalin and disgust that seems to trump all other ways of seeing things.

And let's not go to a place where "the other side" is responsibile.
All sides of the debates are, have been, and continue to be willing to engage in rhetoric of the extremes. It is as if we have turned our public discourse into an extremely cheap, nasty, testosterone-infected extreme reality TV show, often resulting in little more than demonizing the "enemy".

Are we all so bored and so filled with ennui that our imaginations are capable only of the kind of rhetoric usually reserved for the Springer-type shows? Have we succumbed to the Wide World of Wrestling's lowest comon denominator..that whenever there is loud noise, faux hate or real contempt, lots of blood and guts..there will be a large audience...
and then set out to fulfil our own meagre self-fulfilling prophecy? Are video games seeding the minds of our youth (and some not-so-young) with the pursuit of "virtual violence" and thereby the public vernacular with "gotcha" motives, methods and obsessions?

This is no longer the debate of a civilized civil society; it is now, "We hate those who oppose us, and we believe that includes everyone else, because there is no one we can trust!"

The projections of self-loathing fly through the airwaves like lasers landing on the most innocent of faces, and we claim impunity for the destruction, and call it "what's normal for today".

I recently heard a comment that seems to typify the attitude: A young female teacher remarked, "Greg Mortensen deserved the Nobel Peace prize for what he has already done, not that other guy, Obama, who got it for nothing!"

Maturity is not defined only by cynicism, or by contempt or by hostility.
It can be, and I thought used to be, defined by some kind of balance and some kind of celebration of equanimity and of gentle thankfulness!
Or is such an attitude and tone "too weak" and "not male enough"?
As our leaders prove the narrow limits of "hard power," while their "soft skills" lie mostly dormant, are the talking heads turning our public vocabularly into "name-calling-bullets" and firing randomly into the throng of suspects in pursuit of better ratings and more personal celebrity? More violence without literal blood shed, only metaphoric!

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