With the Presidential Elections happening later this year in the United States, the silly political theater is in full effect. Intelligence, cooperation, negotiation, reasoning, and civility go “out the window.” The people who yell loudest, even though a minority in the electorate, seem to get the most crazy, media time due to the fact the media loves the “crazies.” (Good screen-time…) So, I offer a few thoughts on how to view the process…
There are a lot of angry and rage driven people in this country (and the world) and they are always right, at least in their belief system. Most of these people have developed their habitual “knee-jerk” reaction to any opposing thought, by allowing their anger and rage to rise to the surface, and without any appropriate filtering, find expression. Historically, polite society has encouraged a safety net of emotional filtration of the expression of anger. We have developed laws that are supposed to keep strong emotions from taking over and the expression of emotional rage from being demonstrated. We have even developed laws which say that angry people in relationships can not, legally, beat each other or their children (as in domestic violence or child abuse.) Our system allows for “free expression” of our political views but has discouraged “punching someone out” for disagreeing. We do have problems with anger filled bullies who attempt to control situations with their anger by shouting down any opposing conversation or action. On their terms, free expression is sanctioned but only toward someone who holds their same belief. In this way, a minority can control the political process by saying “NO” and bullying any opposition.
Very often these angry, rage filled people are driven by their value system that sees things in “black and white” terms. “Either you are for me or against me” mentality. There is no “gray zone” where there is room to work together with compromise. This is why the congressional process in the United States has ground to a halt and become ineffective. No room to compromise means a minority opinion can control the political process. The person who “yells louder” wins the discussion and angry people, who have no appreciation for the act of compromise, seem to control progress by grinding negotiation to a halt.
“Black and white” values and expressing anger/rage are linked together. This value system historically has given rise to dictatorships and totalitarian regimes like the one currently controlling Iran and, in the past, Nazi Germany. The minorities take control of their political process, and their governments, without regard for compromise and the basic human rights of opposing beliefs. There are dangerous people who might strap an explosive vest to their body and walk into a crowded market to detonate their bomb. Terrorists are very “black and white” in their thinking. They often have a belief that if you do not agree with their values you deserve to die, even if other innocent people die also. Religious extremists and political extremists are not dissimilar in their “black and white,” “right or wrong” attitudes and values. They can be quick to anger with opposition and when they “act out,” headlines are made. For rational people who understand the value of compromise, this is very scary. As our world continues toward political and religious polarization, violence and angry outbursts will escalate.
There is an appropriate place for anger. There are appropriate ways to express dissatisfaction, even rage, but extremism, from any political or religious mindset, needs to be expressed through the filters of rational and appropriate communication. The world is getting too crowded and too small for minority bullies to be running the show.
Mutual respect, tolerance of differing views, and the acceptance that other people’s beliefs can be shared, but not forced on non-believers, seems necessary in our shrinking and over-crowded world.
Be wary of preachers and politicians who are too extreme in their “black and white” sermons, with little or no regard for another opinion. These bullies can control followers and drive them to act unfairly in the mob that they create. Their most ardent supporters are often people who are under-educated or who are impulsive because they are not able to think clearly about available options that can create positive solutions to pressing issues. Stand up and use your brain so that you are not “controlled” and duped into behaviors that rational people of the world would find to be stupid or inappropriate. It is our responsibility to seek all the information on both sides of an issue before we make our final decision, as the framers of the constitution of the United States intended. (Do not rely on any one source of information and news coverage. It may require an effort that even looks outside our country’s media sources.) This requires time and effort, not the “follow the tail in front of you” approach as circus elephants are trained to do. If you can not find your way, safely, out of the narrow minded thinking, then at least do not react in a “knee-jerk” fit of rage to an opposing point of view. Perhaps, as a reasonable alternative, engage in tolerance. “Civics” as a study, and part of our education process, has largely been lost to educational budget cuts in the United States, and with it, the education regarding how the political process is supposed to work and how the voters are supposed to prepare themselves to make good voting decisions. To often we are lead to the polls by the demagogues who yell the loudest and control our media’s attention.
Please be responsible and do not be lazy when you choose your government, or, you are doomed to pay the price…