Attack and Shooting Only Fallout Symptom of National Frustrations
From the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the floor of the Capital in Austin to a normally tranquil neighborhood and quiet baseball field in Alexandria Virginia, it appears no one in
America is safe from the wiles of hatred and anger.
How Anger Can Turn Tragic
The news is full of daily fodder involving the fallout from anger men and women making statements of frustration with the world and its politics.
The latest being identified as shooter at the Alexandria baseball diamond was 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, of Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson, who was White, formerly ran a home-inspection business, had been living out of a van in Alexandria for several months and had a history of anger and railing against the Republican Party.
According to some reports, he publicly criticized Republican members of Congress and called President Trump a traitor. He also belonged to a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party.”
After shooting Congressman Steve Scalise and several of his staff members, the former supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign bid, was shot by a special detail from the Capitol Police agents and died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The shooting attacks on members of Congress appear to be a problematic symptom of something much larger going on in the psyche of Americans Black, White and Brown.
A President’s Appeal
In an effort to change the focus and redirect the nation’s mindset, President Donald Trump made appeals for a reboot, calm, prayers and unity.
“We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country,” Trump said in a press conference after the attack in Alexandria. “…We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.”
A group of experts recently made comments about their take on anger in America and surprisingly enough, much of what is happening is being taken seriously and personal among the most visible leaders of the nation.
PinPointing The Problem
Many citizens are living lives unaware of the storms of anger, frustration and hate building around them.
There are angry people on freeways, supermarkets, on buses, in cinemas, at restaurants…
“I believe that we are getting angrier as a nation – that we are more likely than ever before to both feel angry and to express our anger,” Psychologist Sandi Mann expressed in her comments on an anger nation in Why Are We All So Angry These Days, Huff Post United Kingdom, 26 March 2013. “This is (happening) despite the increasing ‘zero tolerance’ exhibited in many workplaces and organizations that remind us that ‘abuse towards staff will not be tolerated.”
Mann, who at the time served at University of Central Lancashire, Director of The Mind Training Clinic, indicated that on of the reasons for our increasing rage are, in her view, twofold; on the one hand our expectations have risen steadily and on the other hand, so have our stress levels. Those raised expectations mean that as a society, we have much higher expectations of our world; and we believe we have the right to expect things to go well, indeed, to be perfect.
“When, as is inevitable, reality falls short of these expectations, we feel that we have the right to get angry about it. We have the right to get annoyed and demand redress – immediately!” she added.
The fallout of such reactions has created the environment we see with immigration, police shootings, climate changes, Russia, brutality, street protests and individual “lone wolf” attacks in an effort to garner attention and underscore the discontent with a sitting president, parties in Congress, state legislators, governors, police or other entities affecting everyday life in our communities.
Bunkered and On The Defensive
Ninth District Congressman Al Green, who recently received threats for calling for the impeachment of President Trump, is confident that Congress will unite and not be intimidated by the actions of the angry or terrorism.
“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We have set aside all of our differences and stand of common ground that unites all of us,” he said. “While the victims of this tragedy, included a member of Congress, everyone should be safe and secure. Days like this should be a reminder that it does not matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican.”
Each year, members of the Senate and House play to raise money for D.C. charities. The Democrats and Republicans each form their own teams and face off against each other, but the game has been beloved as an increasingly rare civil rivalry among Congress members.
The game had been founded with congressional cooperation in mind. John Tener, a Republican who joined the House in 1908 after a baseball career, proposed the match as a way to heal the infighting he saw in his own party at the time. He figured Republicans would finally get along with each other if they had to work together to trounce Democrats on the field.
The focus is on new protection and appeal for calm nationwide.
“There is no place for such senseless violence in our country…” said Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson “…It is in this American spirit that I ask for all Americans to unite in offering their prayers and well-wishes to all those affected.”
Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee condemning the senseless violence a renewed the awareness needed to focus on anger and the rampant gun violence plaguing America.
“We don’t yet know all of the facts surrounding what happened, but the acts of today bring to light the necessity for enhanced security for members of Congress,” she said. “This is a very important time to address the seeming anger of so many Americans with a spirit of caring and action for the basic needs. We have to heal this nation.”
Anger Factors Magnified
Dr. Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D. addressed the reasons for today’s rage in Why Are We Americans So Angry in a Psychology Today Post, dated Apr 30, 2013.
She received her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. She completed her Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University
According to Saedi, the growing discontent in the nation continues to get worse. Shootings, bombings, are not independent random events, but a symptom of a much larger epidemic that is now at play.
“We feel wronged, threatened, insulted, and find experiences in our environment that confirm this,” she commented. “If you want to feel insulted, there are numerous ways to ensure this does in fact happen to you… We are a nation where many of our citizens are overworked, exhausted, financially strapped, alienated, and disconnected. We clock in day in and day out, and very often are left feeling unappreciated and uninspired. Of course we would be upset, agitated, and angry. Does this justify hatred, threats, and malice?” She adds. “Of course not.”
In his times, Time Ideas, Jan 05, 2016 Rabbi David Wolpe, said Americans have and live some version of the “Whig interpretation of history,” a theory identified and criticized by the historian Herbert Butterfield almost a century ago that sees history as an ever-increasing march to enlightenment. If you believe that things should get better and better, then it is infuriating when they do not.
“Americans are angry,” said Wolpe. “They are angry about schools, shootings and taxes and mistreatment and undeserved privilege and discrimination and government.”
Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, the author of eight books and has been named one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post.
According to Wolpe, our understanding of unfairness, from childhood the sense that someone has received more than we have arouses anger and this poses a danger whenever goods are unevenly distributed, as they are in every society that has ever existed.
In modern capitalist economies, the resentment is exacerbated by politics, vast wealth and everyone’s easy glimpses into the worlds of the “haves.”
The restless drive to betterment has made unimaginable luxuries, such as having access to all human knowledge in your pocket, a commonplace even for many of the poor.
“Angry protests have often resulted in improved conditions. But when dissatisfaction becomes anger, it is less likely to be useful than polarizing and injurious,” he writes. “When both parties are angry, fewer are likely to find middle ground. If the only way people feel they will be heard is when they are angry, then our public discourse will be an arena for shouting past one another.”
Net results is gridlock, no progress and more frustration that eventually boils over into the streets or manifest itself in the form of shooters and acts of terror.
The Saedi Solution
Dr. Saedi asks what do we do with all of this anger?
“We let go. We forgive. We meditate and pray,” she said. “We surround ourselves with loved ones.”
According to her, Americans are made up of many parts and sides and we all have parts of all of us that could be made softer and kinder.
“We can learn to see the good in each of us that exists and teach our children to do so,” she said. “Or, we can continue to get angry, bully each other, make threats and demands. It is our choice.”