Rage has become the new currency.
Our culture has elevated it to the status of virtue. The more we express and sustain our outrage, the faster we pat ourselves on the back for being offended, and the louder we lament what the rest of the world is getting away with, the more status we gain.
It makes total sense. Why would anyone waste their time being an example of joy in motion when society literally rewards people for releasing a rage that shakes the skies?
If you can’t get no satisfaction, you’re in luck, because there’s no money in contentment.
Carson, the author, poet, professor and classicist, makes an important point about our culture’s angry emotional state her popular book of plays:
Why does tragedy exist? Because you are full of rage. And why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief. Our rage explodes from us, but the explosion is nearly always about something else, it’s displaced grief.
Her explanation may not solve the problem of rage, but it does give us empathy for whenever it surfaces. It invites us to look below the rock of rage to locate the soil of loss. Whether we are the ones raging, or the screams are coming from someone else, we can train ourselves to step back from the fight and wonder for a moment.
What is this person afraid is going away?
What boundaries of this person might have been trespassed upon?
What recent loss might have triggered this person’s pool of grief?
What does this person feel helpless to control?
What aspect of their identity is changing and therefore dying?
What privilege might this individual have that is fending unfairly and without warning?
That’s the thing we have to remember about rage. It’s not a primary emotion. It may feel like one, but odds are, it’s pointing to something deeper and darker.
And this is not and indictment on the experience of rage itself. My belief is that there are no bad thoughts or feelings, only healthy and unhealthy ways of expressing them.
But since outrage culture has become an emotional obsession of our brains, a permanent fixture of our society and a cottage industry of our economy, then we may as well take the time to understand its roots and deepen our empathy for the part of ourselves that needs to scream about what is happening.
It’s not a bad first step.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Instead of congratulating each other on how upset we are, what we offered condolences for the things we are losing?