Why is everyone so angry? All the time?
Up until a few years ago I was an avid watcher of television news channels. The ones where they repeat the same stories and information over and over and over because they can only talk about the news. When there is only 20 minutes of new information worth talking about each day but you have 24 hours to fill there is little else to do except repeat.
Political conservatives have their own channel and political liberals have theirs so they don’t have to talk to one another. It’s kind of like Christian denominations. We each have our own churches so there is no need to communicate with one another.
It is curious that conservatives seem to have much better looking people on television. If I had to watch with no sound it would be an easy choice.
I gave up news television a few years ago when it dawned on me that I was just watching angry people vent their anger. I think it was causing me to be somewhat angry myself, and I’m not typically an angry person. It was impossible for anyone on these shows to speak because there was always someone else speaking louder. I could never understand why anyone would agree to be interviewed because it meant the host was going to scream and belittle you.
But, I realized that angry people are not just on news television – they are everywhere. If you drive very far on the highways in Dallas/Fort Worth where I live you will encounter angry drivers, pointing at you with obscene gestures and hoping you can read their lips as they squeeze past you on the shoulder. Road rage is not your friend.
Angry sports fans often turn violent when they encounter fans of other teams. Twitter and Facebook conversations quickly get ugly when someone posts a dissenting opinion. Holiday shoppers even rage at those who get ahead of them in line or discover a better parking spot.
A well-known pastor recently hosted a conference where he and his friends felt it was their responsibility to point out the theological flaws of others. Before the conference even concluded, angry dissenters who held a different theological position were firing off angry diatribes on their blogs and Twitter accounts.
Husbands are angry at their wives, and vice versa. Children and parents are angry toward each other. Bosses and employees, neighbors, people at church, siblings, customers and customer service people, even strangers – they are all angry.
Why is everyone so angry?
I am obviously not a psychiatrist, but I have spent more than 60 years observing people. In spite of my lack of credentials, I have an idea as to why we get angry at so many things. I think a lot of our anger is caused by fear. We are afraid we are going to miss out on a deal so we get angry at those who got to the store before we did. We are afraid we might be late for work so we cut in front of other cars on the highway. We are afraid there will not be enough money to pay the bills this month so we yell at our spouse for wasting a few dollars.
We have been told over and over that the Democrats are going to destroy our country so we get angry about everything a Democrat says or believes. We are afraid the Republicans are going to allow poor people to starve so we vent our anger toward all our Republican friends. We get so angry that we make ridiculous comments, which makes others angry and they respond in kind.
During the recent debates over affordable healthcare, a Facebook friend posted something like this – “Obamacare is the worst tragedy to ever happen to our country.” This person is either an idiot (which he is not), overstating his case to make a point, or perhaps angry and lashing out at those who support the other position. As you might imagine, there was a great deal of angry response. Anger seems to be contagious.
Perhaps another cause of our anger is the feeling that we have been cheated. The sentiment is inevitable because life isn’t fair. There will be times when others get an advantage or a benefit that we do not receive. Consequently, folks are angry when someone else gets a promotion or is able to afford a new car or bigger house.
I think this is the reason for some of the anger behind the affordable healthcare plan mentioned earlier. Many people think they work hard and pay for their own insurance and it’s not fair for others to get the same thing for a cheaper rate. The rich are angry at the poor for receiving government help and the poor are angry at the rich because their life is so much easier.
Jesus showed us that it is permissible to be angry sometimes. When he drove the money changers from the temple (see John 2) he displayed anger. It is an appropriate emotion at times. When we hear about things like human trafficking we should be angry. When someone abuses a child, anger is a proper response. Any kind of injustice is probably deserving of anger.
But political positions, theological persuasions, or minor inconveniences are not deserving of our anger. When someone disappoints you or lets you down, the best response is not anger. If your plans fall through it does not help to spew fury. There are just not that many things in life that deserve our anger.