Guilt And Anger
Over on The Automatic Earth, StoneLeigh and Ilargi have poted some excellent food for thought. And kicked off a discussion that definitely got me involved. I'm very tempted to just keep commenting and commenting, but I think It's best if I don't start becoming an annoyance there.
The discussion that got me going, was on the Wall Street folks that are now on the public dole, feeling entitled to huge bonuses. Stoneleigh made the argument that we shouldn't get angry at them, as we've enjoyed the same sense of entitlements, and the third world looks at us the same way.
I took this as an appeal to be motivated by feelings of guilt. A strategy that boils my blood. I do not believe in original sin, or any variant thereof. I believe we are responsible for our own actions, not the action of people we have no power over or influence over.
I misunderstood the point I think. As I made the argument that I didn't intentionally commit crimes to gain my booty, and destroy the livelihood of others. Nor have I done this to repress folks in third world countries.
This argument evolved into a couple of clarifications for me. the point was made that anger is not constructive.
I made an argument on this point, and I still think it's valid. If we as a people did get angrier faster, at misdeeds committed in our name, we wouldn't be here today, in this particular pickle. We wouldn't have had the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Iran Contra Affair, Sandinistas, the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, and on and on. Righteous anger, in my view can be constructive.
Vicky made a Zen point that my anger isn't actually constructive, because it only hurts me. She calls it obsessive. I concede the point on the level that I believe that she intends it. But once again, if none us got angry, we'd have already been ground into the dirt as slaves, long ago. Slave revolts are driven by anger. Without it, they never happen. Slavery spreads, with no one to fight it.
Our ruling class polls us frequently. They keep a gauge on the public anger, and try not to get us so angry, that we won't let them steal from us any longer. Our anger is manipulated.
And Stoneleigh addressed this point. Collective anger can be channeled to drive horrible deeds. Anger fueled the Nazi Party into power for instance. But this is an incoherent anger. And even as I'm reminded of how that went, I also remember the French Revolution, and even though it was horrible and bloody incident, it was also cathartic, and the French were better off after it occurred. It taught the rulers that the public does have limits.
I worry though that the Nazi example may be the one the USA will follow. Like the Germans, we have strongly divisive party politics, working to drive a party furor. In our national consciousness, the enemy isn't the collective ruling class, it's that other party. The enemies are our friends and neighbors that worship the wrong rulers.
I think that Vicky and the others that responded, feel I'm too angry and as Vicky put it, obsessive. But when I'm working in my garden, playing guitar or engaged in any other activity, I forget politics for a time. My anger subsides. I think that what upset me most about this line of argument though, is that I fear that it leads to apathy. If don't get angry about injustices, then there is no opposing force to counter a continuation of these policies.
An anonymous commentator reminded me of a point that makes me angry every time it comes up.
Obama tells us that we can't prosecute the criminals, because we're all guilty to some degree. Only the sinless have the right to apprehend criminals, charge them, judge them and sentence them. As no one is without sin, no one has the right to interfere with criminals and their criminal activities. When I first read Stoneleigh's comments, this is exactly what I thought she meant. Though I understood she was channeling Obama's seemingly wise words without considering what he meant when he said them.
To lose my anger, I'd have to give up my love for my country. I'd have to quit caring. I'd have to become one of those that I vent my anger at. I don't think that I can be that person.