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The Politics of Anger

Sunday, 19 September 2010, 7:20 AM

We're all bozos on the bus, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.
-Wavy Gravy

There has been a disturbing trend in the last twenty years that started with the proliferation of email. This trend hides under the guise of politics. This trend has served to polarize us into a nation colored red or blue. (on a side note, how did Republicans end up being red? I have to wonder if the communists are upset that they've lost their color.) This trend has served to escalate anger and to minimize rational discussion.

This trend is what I call the Politics of Anger. You've been exposed to it if you have an email address, read Face Book, and/or peruse political blogs from time to time. The story about Obama not being a natural citizen is a fine example. I'm not going to take sides on that argument, but simply point out that I have seen very little hard evidence on either side. Mostly, I see angry rhetoric thrown back and forth along with personal insults and epitaphs disparaging the intelligence of the other side.

I don't blame the internet for this; the internet has allowed us to inform one another on how we feel about anything we want to express. It is an open forum filled with so much information no one person could ever absorb even ten percent of it.

I don't blame the current political parties for this anger either. They are what they are, and I say that with the most pontifical attitude I can convey as I couldn't really begin to explain what they really are. I'm not sure I really would want to. But I digress...

The blame for this anger can mostly be lain at the feet of leisure I think. We've become the product of all the sweat, blood, and toil of our ancestors who continually worked hard for the future of their children. Well, welcome to that future. We live in such luxury that we no longer tolerate anything that appears to be hard work; like researching an argument. It is much easier, and to some, perhaps more satisfying to type out angry retorts to views opposite of those we hold. It is as if the last angry post is going to win. God help you if you try topping me!

I read a blog the other day disparaging Obama's politics. There were several accusations made and I really won't go into them here. The replies were both for and against, but after reading thirty or so, I did not find one reply against that gave any sort of thought out argument refuting the accusations. Every one of them was simply an angry retort or personal attack on the blogger.

On Face Book, an apparent democrat posted a picture of a group of people holding signs on which were written epitaphs dealing with the question of Obama's citizenship. Someone posted that the 'lily white' crowd in the picture must all be bigots. I was taken aback, and looked closer at the picture. Yes they were all white, and yes Obama has some African heritage in him, but I saw nothing to indicate that these people thought Obama was unfit for his job because he was black. They were angry because a Democrat was President; it could have been a white guy and the only thing that would've changed in the picture was the face on their placards.

The problem has reached the point where we no longer listen very well at all. We simply hurl shit at each other in the hopes that whoever ends up the stinkiest is the loser. This, I think, was a great tactic for our hominid ancestors in protecting their territory, but looks rather foolish when done by supposed grown ups of the modern world, or maybe the problem is that they are too grown up? Do we take ourselves too seriously?

I remember a comedy group who did bits of absurd humor called Firesign Theater. They had an album called “I think we're all Bozo's on this Bus”. I think we all need to remember that. I believe that in the grand scheme of the Universe, how much shit you can throw on your opponent doesn't really count for much at all. It might get your enemy to stink, but in the process you won't be able to avoid getting some on yourself.

The Universe is some 2 billion years old, or something like that. That is 1,000 times older than the entire human race, right back to our earliest ancestors who hurled shit at one another to delineate and protect their turf. Given this humbling fact, is spreading shit that much better than spreading laughter? Which will be remembered?

I think it's time to start handing out big red noses and floppy shoes and to start taking ourselves a little less seriously. We need to take our opponent's viewpoints with a little more salt. I suggest that next time an opposing viewpoint really makes you upset, try making your enemy laugh rather than cover them in shit.

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