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Why Are We So Angry?

Here are some answers to that question.

The breakdown in civil society means we must make personal decisions in public when we are not sure what is right, or what seems right is more dangerous than is apparent at the moment.

Driving on a two lane country road that is narrow and curved, a driver ahead of me had stopped for a few seconds. I just waited. After a few seconds the driver moved forward and stopped again. Because of the curve I couldn't safely overtake them so I waited, congratulating myself on being patient. Then the driver started backing up quite fast, so I backed up, then they made a left turn down a narrow road.

Afterward I was impressed with the sense of entitlement shown by this driver for not indicating via lights or signals what they needed to do, or for doing the safe thing and driving forward until the next turn off where they could have turned back in the right lane to make the turn they missed. The driver appeared to expect or hope that I would accommodate their needs.

Later I realized I was complicit in this dangerous driving - it could have been a mess if another had driven up around the corner as I was backing up. Later still I realized I didn't know what to do at that moment. Should I have just remained in that spot refusing to move back, honked my horn, got out of the car? There is something about being in a vehicle which makes us isolated in our decisions. In a fraction of a second we can destroy lives even if we don't want to.

Later I felt angry - not so much at that particular driver, but because I didn't know what the right thing to do was. It's easy to dismiss any social or safety discomfort as being someone else's fault. Blaming is even encouraged in hierarchical societies as long as we blame those on the bottom of the power spectrum.

We see so many big problems and grave dangers to our future, that billions of isolated egos can't seem to fix. Nevertheless there is an undercurrent of outrage and disappointment when the mind becomes aware of the broad scope of injustice which is mostly felt when a child starts looking beyond the immediate family to the larger society.

Ann Jones, in her article "After I lived in Norway America Felt Backward Here's Why" relates her experience of being a journalist in Afghanistan then travelling to Norway and returning home to America. What she finds is this:

"I had, in fact, come back to the flip side of Afghanistan and Iraq: to what America’s wars have done to America. Where I live now, in the homeland, there are not enough shelters for the homeless. Most people are either overworked or hurting for jobs; the housing is overpriced, the hospitals crowded and understaffed, the schools largely segregated and not so good. Opioid or heroin overdose is a popular form of death, and men in the street threaten women wearing hijabs. Did the American soldiers I covered in Afghanistan know they were fighting for this?"

I include this here to compare the small experiences of learning how to live with one another peacefully, with the results of centralized power that destroy millions of lives through war and neglect. For centuries marauding tribes has destroyed the civil societies they conquer and proceed to replace what might be intelligent behaviour with trauma and chaos. Here we are either exploitable resources or refugees.

Now hate groups are flourishing with their malevolent prescriptions that deflect the real causes more fear and hatred.


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