If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention

The title was a bumper sticker that I saw in traffic this morning. Given the length of my commute, I had a lot of time to think about what that meant.

The reality is that the average person only gets upset about things that affect them personally. It is an unfortunate reality, but who has time to be concerned with EVERYTHING that is going on in the world.

I find myself trying to be conscious and aware of the major things happening, although my disdain for watching the news can make that difficult at times. Between Trump’s tremendous amounts of foolery, the astonishing number of missing girls in the DC area, the fact that running away from home is a CRIMINAL offence, the rampant homophobia and Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism that cause hate crimes, the gouging of the American people by Big Pharma and the insurance companies in the name of profit (but hiding behind the “flaws” in Obamacare), the wealth disparities, the intentional lack of resources in the inner cities and rural areas, the racism that causes poor whites to vote for Republicans leaders who care nothing about them and actively work against them….

I could go on for days. It is a wonder that this country hasn’t destroyed itself by now with all of the greed, hatred, corruption, and violence. Instead of addressing the reasons that men attack women and rape them, companies create products to make women feel safer in order to protect themselves. Instead of helping the young people who run away from bad situations, the system criminalizes and locks them up as if they molested themselves or neglected themselves or otherwise traumatized them to the point that leaving the house was better than staying.

It is also a wonder that people do not go crazy when they are conscious of the messed up state of the world. Then, even more infuriating is the fact that there are people who cannot/will not see the reality that is before them… those who want any protest, frustration, or concern to be raised in ways that do not challenge their vision of the world… Dr. King had a response in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” when he said,

“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts to say, ‘Wait!’. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill you lack brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society….”

The outrage comes from living it day to day. Despite the fact that this is supposedly a nation full of Christians – characterized by compassion and love – and people of faith, the superficial divisions and categories that make people feel superior to others cause hate crimes and political gridlock.

Given the West’s dysfunctional relationship with emotions, it is understandable that anger, particularly from colonized and brutalized people, the disdain for protest that doesn’t serve the majority’s interest makes sense.

But I said all that to say,

  • We have to be conscious. 
  • We have to be active.
  • We have to take care of ourselves in the process.

It’s important to be angry and let that anger lead to positive action. But don’t let the outrage overtake you.


Picture credit: http://phdcomics.com/comics/archive/phd032417s.gif


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