Outrage

bq. If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying enough attention.

That bumper sticker seems to sum up the state of our world these days. Everyone is angry about something. Demonstrations, both violent and peaceful, seem to be cropping up all over the place. Riots break out in the most mundane, and often the most bizarre, places. Road rage continues to be a problem, as do violent crimes of all varieties.

It almost seems like being outraged is the new fashion, complete with the red face, furrowed brows, clenched teeth and fists, and high blood pressure. Apparently, anger and outrage are the only ways to express oneself and to effect change in our world. At least, that seems to be the mindset of so many protest groups. Christians are angry about _Brokeback Mountain_ and _The Book of Daniel_, Muslims are angry about political cartoons, (some) Americans are angry about the Iraq war, and the list continues. With all these angry people, I have to wonder if there is any around with a level head.

Of course there are, but most of them have to work harder to be heard – the roar of global outrage is that deafening. That level of anger and vehemence gets things done, sure, but such changes rarely last in the longterm. Angry people are bullying people, and by forcing the change they ensure that it is a shallow one because the hearts and minds of the people they are influencing have _not_ been changed. Things quiet down for a little while and then the change is reinstated, albeit better disguised.

I’ve never gone in for protests and marches, exactly because I feel like they don’t really accomplish much of anything. It’s one thing to state your mind in a town council, a letter to the editor or your congressman, in the voting booth – it’s quite another to go face-to-face, quite literally, with someone, all the while shouting and screaming and spouting obscenities. I have yet to see anything productive accomplished by such means, and even if it has the victory is tainted by the means in which it was acquired.

I have my own fair share of cynical attitudes, even to the extent of finding myself saying bitter things against particular people. It just goes to show you I’m not perfect, but I want to avoid engaging in such behavior, treating people with respect, instead – whether they deserve it or not. I don’t want to bully people into doing what I think is right; I would much rather sway them into seeing things the way I do, if at all possible. But even barring that, I can, and must, continue to live my life according to what is right and good and true. There can be, and should be, no place in my life for outrage.

Have anything to add to the conversation?