Are we collectively losing our minds or is it just me? Don’t answer that.
It just seems that we have turned patience and tolerance or any semblance of same into instant anger and outrage. I have to think that all the anger erupting over just about anything has been buried and festering underground just waiting for its moment to burst forth.
The intensity of anger occurs spontaneously without even a pretense of learning the facts. The hostile response seems to me much worse than what’s warranted by the events that trigger it.
Case in point is the recent killing of an enormous silverback gorilla who had the misfortune to have a 3-year-old slip into his territory.
Most of us have seen the film of the gorilla poking at the little boy, standing him up and then dragging him through the water. Terrifying scene to watch.
Those who know wild animals, care for them and probably love them more than we simple visitors can possibly know, made the quick decision to kill the magnificent creature in order to save the little boy.
Most were relieved to see the boy saved, but also were struck by the tragedy and sacrifice such an act involved. The tragedy raised many questions not the least of which was how could a child manage to get into the area.
A necessary investigation is taking place. Facts will or should inform the corrective actions that will prevent such an event from happening again.
Public outrage did not wait for the facts. The zoo officials who killed the gorilla are being heavily criticized despite other wild animal experts and zoo officials agreeing that it was the only possible action to save the boy.
An even greater outrage is directed against the mother of the boy for not observing him close enough to prevent his slide into the area. Curious kids are slippery that way and most times there is a parental save, sometimes just in the nick of time.
‘There but for the grace of God, go I’
Still everyday there are tragedies. A parent backing out of a driveway runs over the toddler or a toddler drowns in a pool. Imagine the lifelong remorse and difficulty in adjusting and resuming life.
What about the child strangled in a “safe” car seat or the bars set too far apart in a crib? Did Facebook light up with petitions to prosecute the parents or better yet, was there a petition to prosecute the manufacturer? Or did it take three or four more children deaths before a recall was ordered?
Last check, more than 500,000 people had signed the petition to have the mother prosecuted. Why not the parents of each child killed in accidents; why her and why so?
My theory, which I will get to, ignores the fact that Facebook and other Internet outlets give a forum to shout out and gather an army of anger to humiliate and pillory another person.
In my view, it’s the virtual version of stoning in the public square or gathering the public to watch a hanging. We need to accept that there is an unfortunate part of being human that seems to like that sort of thing.
Doesn’t mean we should permit it, just recognize it’s there.
Instead, my theory goes back to the anger festering below the surface. We see rhetoric intended to humiliate and demean another or group of others being greeted with wild applause of approval.
The candidacy of one person has thrived on unearthing the anger. Despite calls of alarm, he has risen to be a front runner for the office of President of the United States.
The rhetoric of this bigger than life inner grump seems to be giving permission to all kinds of people to turn back the progress of civilization by giving voice to the anger about power lost when one has to share power.
Centuries of hard work has been done and is being done to build civilized societies, societies that no longer rush to judgment about someone different, burn witches or enslave people.
The ease with which we relish the rhetoric of discrimination, humiliation and superiority and the fact it all still goes on tells us how very fragile a civilized view of life is. Apparently, it takes great effort to quell the desire to blame, punish, persecute and avoid responsibility without benefit of insight and facts.
We all have an inner grump and great capacity for anger and causing hurt. I have to believe we also have an inner mercy and great capacity for compassion.
Too much good goes on to believe otherwise.
If my theory holds, character attacks and threats are all about power, keeping power and regaining power, however illusionary.
Sharing power through recognizing those different as equal human beings isn’t working for a lot people. We need to understand this better because an alarming alternative is being presented.
Right now those wanting more power than they have and who blame the others for the loss of power have a speaker, a candidate for power, who fondly calls them “his people.”
You are in as long as you are relentlessly adoring and not critical.
Otherwise you are expelled in shame. He threatens through words and then says, “I love (insert name of group expelled or shamed).”
Think about it long enough and you realize that the only power is in the hands of one person deciding who stays and who goes, who wins and who loses.
We should all be in it to win it; the “it” being liberty and justice for all.
Isn’t that written somewhere?
Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.