OpEd: Stay mad or get over it

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When I was a young boy and things didn't always go my way I used to get pretty angry. I'd be working on a model battleship and make a mistake. I'd get pretty jacked up about it. Or if I was trying to build something out of wood and didn't make a perfectly straight cut with my father's very sharp handsaw that belonged to his father, I'd get mad. The initial reaction was to take it out on the saw. Knowing who once owned the saw kept my anger in check.

You may have heard of the golfer who's muffed a shot and slammed his club on the ground; or worse, wrapped it around a tree. I played golf with a guy who slammed his club on the ground so hard he bent the shaft, thus rendering the club equally as useless. As he stood there looking at his newly destroyed club and getting angrier, I said, "You're not good enough to get that mad". I thought he was going to kill me. Years later his anger issues landed him in jail.

Today's most popular ventilation system for angry people appears to be social media. One can easily explode over words uttered by a total stranger. They can hide behind a keyboard and say anything that comes to mind. On occasion, I've been sucked into this vortex; usually by those who support a corrupt president or promote extreme, incorrect propaganda.

Spend a little time on social media to see the innermost thoughts of The Angry Ones. There are some really vile characters out there who wouldn't think twice about wrapping a golf club around a tree (or preferably around your neck). I do not believe that these folks who appear on my screen with their unpleasant words are mentally ill, but they sure are angry; some really, really angry. They leave comments that cause me to be grateful that all they have at their disposal is a computer; at least I hope that's the case. In some cases it's not.

I hear our predominantly Republican friends, along with a very few Democrats, offer a course of action when a very angry person has gone one step too far; purchased assault weapons and killed many people. The political response from those who would rather not talk about real solutions is that the shooter is mentally ill. That may be true, but it could be that the anger gene was never identified early on and has been allowed to foster (or fester) and never properly addressed.

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Right now America has a lot of angry people; way more than I remember as a kid. In the 1950's and early '60's I knew a couple of grumpy old codgers in and around the Dorset area, but I don't ever recall the degree of in-your-face anger that I see today. I saw guys get into fistfights at a clambake and end up laughing about it when it was over; not that it was funny, mind you.

You need only to look at some of the people who attend a rally hosted by the President of the United States. At his rallies you can expect to hear vulgar language. You can expect to hear words that promote and incite violence; words that inspire the audience to not support the candidate but to hate all challengers including our Constitutionally guaranteed free press.

It was not that long ago when we saw Sen. John McCain behave honorably when he politely, but firmly, corrected a woman in the audience who said President Obama was "untrustworthy and an Arab". Can you imagine our current president exhibiting this kind of dignified behavior?

Something happened along the way to where America is today. We went from a world where dad went to work; mom stayed home and raised the family and dad's paycheck was more than enough to live on. We allowed jobs to be shipped overseas and forced both mom and dad to go to work. Even with two working they're living paycheck to paycheck. Heaven forbid anyone get sick, which could lead to bankruptcy for most Americans.

On some level I understand the anger. We've been let down by our leaders. They have created a nation where individuals no longer have the influence they once had. Our leaders have sold out to big money donors. It's a lot easier to deal with thirty or forty mega-rich donors than it is to deal with tens of thousands of voters. The leaders have done a superb job of convincing many people that their problems are created by the poor, immigrants; illegal or legal, or any other scapegoat that can be used to avert attention. Like a good magician they elsewhere, while they're selling you, and your country, out to the highest bidder.

Bob Stannard writes a regular column for the Journal.


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