Are we angry as a nation, or has the current political climate just made us feel like we are?
After last year's election, many in the media talked about people feeling marginalized and forgotten. Personally and professionally, I can vouch for the fact that people are angry on both sides of the political landscape. They don’t feel like they have been heard or their position has been validated. Few things infuriate people more than not being heard. When people feel like they don’t have a voice, they feel impotent. When one feels impotent, they are filled with anger and shame.
Neither side is immune to feeling this way. Both do and both made it known in the 2016 election.
Many years ago, on a trip to Italy, I was asked by our tour guide, “Why are you Americans so angry?”
Wow! I had never thought of us as an angry people. He went on to say, “In Italy we will steal your purse, but we won’t kill you for it. In America, they will."
This conversation was well before 9/11 and the proliferation of terrorism. In those days, terrorism and immigration were a non-issue. I had never thought of us as a particularly angry nation. Had I been wrong? Certainly, this Italian saw us like that. He concluded with saying, “You have everything. Why are you so angry?”
Had we become the brat of the world, stomping our feet when we didn’t get our way?
I respectfully disagree with the media and my delightful tour guide. I do not believe that we are angry as an entire country. Instead, I believe we are scared. Our fear fuels our anger. We are afraid of a changing world. Our economy, our lifestyle, and the things that we have held dear as a nation are changing. Not getting worse, just changing. After WWII, America was a powerhouse. The world had been disseminated, and we had the resources and ingenuity to rebuild it. However, just as the Industrial Revolution ripped through the agrarian society, technology and globalization are ripping into us. Eventually, it will right itself. It just feels really painful and scary now.
As we know know, things are changing in our country. Some people believe that it is high time for change, others wish that we had more of the same. Both sides are scared for very different reasons, and their reasons may be very valid. We don’t know what to expect for our future. Fear is dangerous. It makes people do dangerous things. Perhaps love will overcome the fear. The Bible tells us that,”Perfect love is without fear." Let’s make our love rock like we never did before.
Here are four simple steps to deal with the fear
1. Educate - Get to know all you can about what is going on in our country and the world. Learn about the economy and it’s challenges. Watch all the major news organizations. NPR probably gives the most balanced coverage on a variety of topics.
2. Act, don’t react - Get involved with whatever you believe in, there is no right or wrong way to think. Take ownership of what you believe in, and do something about it. Anger or fear alone change nothing.
3. Listen, really listen, to the other side - Both sides have valid points. You don’t have to agree, but I think that we need to listen to each other's thoughts and feelings.
4. Love hard - Love drives out all anger and fear. Whether you are on the left or right, we all love our country and want what is best. Learn to love, even when it is hard.