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Anger or disgust? 

I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!! - Howard Beale, Network

A disturbing article appeared in the February issue of Esquire magazine. American Rage reveals the results of a survey about the issues that anger people today. To summarize, everybody in this country, men and women regardless of ethnicity or income, are pissed. To be sure, not every group is angry about the same things, but it seems just about everyone is mad about something.

Except me, maybe.

There are a lot of things I would like to change in world. Certainly a decrease in violence, poverty, and disease. Intolerance and inequity appear to be increasing (or are at least getting more press). The quality of our politics and politicians is laughable. Need l go on?

And yet, anger is not usually the first emotion that surfaces when I listen to the news. It's more likely to be disgust. Cynicism. Even fatalistic amusement (Come on, there are times you just have to laugh at Trump.) Been a long time since I've thrown anything at the TV screen.

While I would like to think that a more rational response to events is a more mature, more intelligent reaction than anger, could it be that anger is better? Do we ever work to change anything at does not engage us emotionally?

As educators, it  becomes too easy to detach ourselves from the problems our students and their families face. The distance is emotional protection, to be sure. But can we afford this separation?

If the changes we make only come from the head - and not the heart - do they ever really account for much?

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Reader Comments (4)

I think it's easy to look back and say, "I was angry!" when maybe it really was disgust or some other closely related emotion we were feeling. I'm wondering how I would have answered the poll. Maybe pretty often, but when I look back, was it really "throw something at the TV angry?" No. I think it depends on our perception of "anger."

I would like to see this poll using the emotion "fear." How often does something on the news frighten you?

January 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

This post makes me think about the novel 1984 (one of my favorite books) in which the characters have a two minute "hate" session in which they can rant and rave. Perhaps it's a way to drain the emotion and then maybe we can all calm down and think more clearly. Maybe.

January 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

I agree. Anger is rarely my first emotion when reading/viewing events in the news. For me it's most often something like frustrated amusement, as in "Really? Is this really something worthy of this much attention?" (in the voices of Tina Fey and Seth Meyers :-) And far more cynicism than is probably healthy.

As to Annette's question about fear, there are too many politicians and pundits using that emotion as a strategy to boost ratings. Irrational fear drives too much of public policy these days, to the point that we spend more time and energy worrying about vague theoretical threats than on positive approaches to planning for the future.

January 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTim Stahmer

Hi Tim,

Cynical? You? One of my favorite lines comes, I think, from Lilly Tomlin who said, "No matter how cynical I become, it's never enough to keep up." Just how I feel most days!


January 18, 2016 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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