Frank Bruni in the New York Times the other day, in response to Yet More Sad Trump Guff:
Today’s partisans have made anger into an industry — using it to run up the number of listeners, viewers and hits.
Our language is growing coarser. Our images, too…Madonna fantasizes about blowing up the White House. Kathy Griffin displays a likeness of Trump’s severed head. Stephen Colbert uses a crude term to describe Trump as Putin’s sexual boy toy.
True. But Bruni’s point is that:
Even if [the language and images] are only rarely a conduit to violence, they’re always a path away from high-minded engagement.
Yep, and that’s where the most dangerous problem lies.
Anger makes it easier to not be high-minded. It excuses us from being the better human.
I have anger issues. They flare and I can feel self-righteousness coursing through my veins. I will also find myself asking myself, “Why do I always have to be the better human? Why should I have to be the one who has to be high-minded all the time, to bring the tone back to ‘decent’?”. Then this, too, makes me angry.
But if you’re capable of being aware of a high-minded option in a situation, then it’s your responsibility to enact it.
No? I find this in itself a motivating force. It’s noble. It’s bigger than me, a realisation that always helps me be a better version of myself.
It’s funny being in Greece, where you could flare all day, if you let yourself get caught up. People cut in in traffic, dogs bark all night, bureaucracy stalls, banks don’t cooperate. But the Greeks seem motivated to be better humans and this overrides the flare.
Anger, of course, begets anger (see how quickly a nasty meme can circulate on social media, as we all find certitude in the outrage). Here in Greece, fortunately, being a better human also rubs off. Two weeks in and I’m smiling at the traffic. I understand why the dog is barking and why two old ladies almost sit on my lap on the beach when I’m trying to meditate.