As much as I would prefer to deny it, the United States has become an anger based nation. I don’t mean a little bit of anger or a few moments of blowing off some steam. I mean anger has become one of our bedrock, core values and the foundation of much of what passes for debate in this country. This fact hasn’t always been so. In fact I think it’s not too late to reverse this unseemly fashion.
We’ve had other periods of anger based activity in the country. The worst was the rift in the nation that resulted in the Confederate States of America. We’ve largely gotten over that fiasco. Another time was during the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and 1970s. These were understandable times of anger and probably were unavoidable due to the nature of the repressed nature of minority rights in the U.S. This has largely gone away except for some simmering emotion from the Native American community and the Lesbian Gay Transgender Bisexual Questioning movement.
If we can accept equality for all members of the U.S. we will have eliminated much of the anger base and can move forward with the business of living good lives in a wholesome country. But that’s not good business nor political sense. There are fortunes to be made in the anger and hatred business. Just spread around a goodly amount of disinformation and leave out the human equation then you can collect mega-profits and millions of votes. Trigger anger about hot-button issues and you have millions of people like putty in your hands to do your bidding.
Most folks harbor some sort of mild distrust of other people. That mistrust is magnified in regards to folks who don’t seem to be like the “normal” people. In this case, the target group of fear and hate based broadcasting is that of heterosexual, white males. For instance when someone who chooses to listen to a commentator like Beck or Limbaugh, he is choosing to hear information that validates and reinforces his preconceived ideas. There will be no really new information for that listener only repackaged ideas backed up by slanted “news” stories. Thus, the vicious cycle of anger fueled by disinformation and misinformation continues.
The broadcaster is rewarded with steady advertising revenue from that demographic. It’s a pragmatic, amoral business plan. You aim for the audience that has demonstrated a willingness to part with lots of disposable income. In this case, heterosexual, white males. It’s an amazing business strategy for anyone who is ethically and morally challenged. It could work for any demographic power base.
On the other side of the coin are the activist organizations. Be they the “Southern Poverty Law Center” in favor of anti-defamation of minorities, or the “Tea Party” organized by billionaire special interests to counter progressive ideals. Both sides demonize their nemeses in order to keep up the flow of contributions and to keep up “brand loyalty”.
It might show up as some people’s squeamishness regarding folks of different races or discomfort with LGBTQ citizens. This negativity is exploited and nurtured to ensure a good flow of funds and a voting base for the instigators who may or may not sincerely share the anti-minority opinions of their supporters. These vicious cycles happen on both sides of the political spectrum. We’re not supposed to notice.
If enough of us figure out the mind games, we won’t buy into their propaganda campaigns. The funding and voting bases will shrink leaving the wannabe leaders adrift with only a small or no audience. That would be OK. There would be a more reality based legion of citizen voters who work cooperatively with one another. If the anger is allowed to die away, we can look forward to constructive resolution of disputes and refocused energy to move us forward to rebuild our economy. Efforts to forgive past transgressions will lead to a more cohesive and stronger nation. We can then pull together to help each other through the coming harsh realities of international economic competition and strife. The world’s climate is changing.
We need solutions, not denials and finger pointing. Letting go of anger will give us room to think and to become more compassionate.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes common wisdom states, “Good news doesn’t sell”. Maybe we can turn that around?