Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Outrage

One of the oddest things about social media, at least the media that pours across my consciousness daily, is how very angry some folks seem about everything.

Some share life, simple and plain.  They offer pictures of children and the reality they inhabit.

But left and right, progressive and conservative, across the spectrum, I encounter souls who choose to use this new form of media to stir themselves to anger.  For them, it's an endless fountain of umbrage and disagreement, critique and attack, chasing after The Thing To Be Angry About Today.

It could be anything, something huge, or something trivial and irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  It's the conservative, chasing down some violation of someone's rights somewhere, or some intolerable impurity of belief.  It's the progressive, finding an injustice in some small town somewhere, or something offensive said by someone on a blog read by five people.

It is as if some souls are in an endless quest to find something--anything--to be enraged about, someone-anyone--to become furious with.  It's a source of energy.  We feel alive when we are angry.  Our wetware floods with hormones, our hearts race, and we forget the aches of our bodies.  We are in conflict, we are doing battle, we are fighting the good fight.

Of course, we're also being sold things by professional provocateurs, being drawn in by our hunger for a sense of relevance.  So we're angry about things in communities where we do not live, and about people we do not know.  This is...unhealthy.

Decoupled from meaningful relationship, anger can have no constructive expression.  Our raging yarps into the chaos of social media become just an infinitesimal part of a great howling din.

That makes the anger easier, because we don't really have to do anything but be angry.

"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention," they will say.  Perhaps.  Sometimes anger is helpful, and healing, and necessary.  But if we are always angry, our anger is meaningless.   And attention?  We choose where to place our attention, if we are to be free beings.

This morning, I walked, and the fall air was cool.  It nipped at my arms, and I drank it like spring water.  The moon was full and fat and bright on the horizon, pure as snow, washing out the stars around it.  Around that moon, high clouds ringed it with a double halo.  The dawn was coming, and the morning light of our rising star touched the tops of trees, tinged with the first colors of autumn.

It was beautiful, and I was paying attention, deeply and completely.  I did not feel angry.

Not at all.