new survey's saying that 75 percent of our citizens are angry.
Sure, we've been hearing much about tea party anger and the
rising levels of distrust in our nation. And yes, we know
that people are most on edge at this time of year, what with
the weather and all. But to hear people constantly screaming
now about how bad they've got it, how they're going to start
hording, and how their own fears trump any larger global problems
Everyone's jumped onto the bandwagon, blaming government for
all our problems. They're speaking in apocalyptic terms about
everything going to hell in a handbasket, and being deprived
of leisure activities they used to take for granted. They're
worried about future catastrophes, wanting to find ways to
find security against anything that could happen. They're
pissed off about the price of gas. They want a world that
exists only in a rosy-tinted nostalgia.
And yet they're all talking about this in local restaurants,
at expensive conferences, on the cell phones or personal computers.
Is this really the start of a revolution? I'm reminded of
my own toddler's whinings. And wanting to put things into
perspective, which used to be something we were all taught
to do as a key to mature reasoning, as a way of getting beyond
our fleeting emotions, which we inevitably have so little
control over. Especially in this age of constant television
chatter, endless narrative machinations, and ever present
conspiracy theories, when it's hard to know whether we're
acting or reacting to life.
What's happening in the world beyond our relatively well-off
selves? A friend in Haiti writes back about everyone's need
there to find means of maintaining their optimism in the face
of such destruction. A peer working in Africa notes that they're
feeling hopeful that things will start looking up now, given
the ways in which so many are still talking about the world
growing closer together. My mother, on the coast of Virginia,
is tired of dealing with the dramatic swings in weather patterns
over the past decade. Same goes for her old neighbors in Alaska,
where new warming trends are shifting fishing patterns.
We are fighting two wars. Others are ongoing, some new, many
decades old, across the globe. Water is growing scarce in
many places. Poverty increases, creating revolutionary scenarios
much more serious than that being fanned by cable pundits
looking for ratings here. We've been warned by most of our
scientists that we are creating a climate problem we may not
be able to get out under, and yet most of our attention is
focused on those who scoff at such knowledge because as far
as they can see, it's still cold outside.
Look back at real times of trouble 75 years ago and things
take on a different reality. We have unemployment insurance
now, a system that provides for our elderly, rural clinics
and hospitals. There aren't long lines of men looking haggard
from lack of food, dust closing down farms across a third
of the nation, tent cities on the Mall. And look back one
year... our heating charges aren't locked into false high
levels based on some summer price surge. House sales are happening
again. New funds are being freed up to repair Route 28. The
banking system didn't collapse.
Why is it we spend so much time blaming a government that
still keeps our taxes low compared to most in the world? Why
give so much credence to anti-government speechifying by people
who want nothing better than to be in government again?
How did the oil companies that raised our gas and fuel prices
to maintain their profits get off having to defend themselves?
Or the real estate developers who pushed housing prices higher
than they should have been at so they could keep their own
investment incomes rising?
What's all this screaming about having heard enough from people
who have educated and trained themselves for specific fields
of expertise, from science to public management? Isn't the
bedrock of Capitalism a division of labor, designed to keep
everyone working at what they do best, the better to achieve
a societal efficiency greater than a bevy of individuals all
trying to do each others' work?
Come to think of it, wasn't the whole idea of governance,
as set forth in our own unique system, designed to accommodate
various parties representing a variety of opinions, and not
just a simplification of all issues to black and right, right
and left, liberal and conservative, yes and no politics?
Yes, we recognize frustration, and feel frustrated by the
forms it's taken. But we don't think we should cowtow to a
reckless anger that wants to break things that have worked
well for all our ideals, whether we want them ourselves or
not. Or to unreasoned dissatisfaction and talk of apocalypse
when we're still better off than most. And part of a larger
world we can no longer separate from.
We do face serious changes, and we need to deal with them
seriously. But we also need to learn to work on what we can,
each to each, and stop screaming about things we can't effect...
and that don't really affect us, unless we watch too much
Let's grow up, everybody. Believe us, it will be spring again.