How We Became an Angry Nation

We are an angry nation.

I’m not sure if you have felt it but once you do it’s hard to shake. I think there is something that generally happens every election season regarding tone but to me something feels a bit different this time around. There has always been differing of opinions and some haggling back and forth but this time I can not help but come to this very deep conviction; we are an angry nation and we need healing.

In Social News…

I try not to engage in political discussions on social media. Personally, I have never seen them go well and they only seem to create a space for people to yell at other people with no real intention of listening or learning. I have experienced the same thing when trying to discuss religion as well so I try to refrain from that for the same reasons.

yellingOf course, not everyone shares the same conviction and my Facebook newsfeed bears that reality. Especially during this election, season things have gotten pretty harsh out there in Facebook and Twitter land. I think I have counted it takes me no more than 3-5 posts, on average, to see someone accusing another person or group of people of being “misinformed”, “idiots”, “stupid” or some 3-4 letter word that I will refrain from repeating here.

It really doesn’t matter what group you align yourself with either; there doesn’t seem to be a differentiating line in the sand that will help discern the angry people from the more balanced. The most surprising and devastating for me has been watching Christians say some of the most hateful and venomous things or support a candidate that does the same and discount it or reason it away. I won’t even try to write a post about why this is so disturbing to me being a Christian myself because frankly I think they know better.

If I am President…

gopdebateIt seems like the rhetoric I am hearing from the candidates has changed from that of the past. It has long lost any sense of unity, the bringing together of people, or even what commonality and is focused on absolutely obliterating any opponent, their supporters, and taking no prisoners. There is something quite comical, in a twisted way, watching people in the same party, during debates, rip each other to shreds and afterwards cordially shake hands and thank them for the debate. People may call that healthy and necessary; I call it sick and dysfunctional.

I was thinking the other day about what has gotten us here. How have we become such an angry nation? I know there are people that aren’t angry (yet) but the overall trend seems to be more that way, no? How have we become a nation almost incapable of having differing opinions and arguing our points while caring for the person in the process?

How Have We Got Here?

My theory is pretty simple. We are a product of our own desires. I once wrote on a Facebook post a while back, “Be careful because the freedoms we fight for today may be the shackles we wear tomorrow”. Our pursuit of wholesale personal autonomy has bought us relational sickness. We believed that if we could just do everything that we wanted to do, be free to say whatever we wanted to say, it really shouldn’t matter to the person next door and we would all be better off. Guess what… it’s a lie. Anyone taking a cursory of the cultural landscape can find it holds as much water as a swiss cheese boat.

Our pursuit of wholesale personal autonomy has bought us relational sickness. Click to Tweet

We believed that yielding to our desires and actually acting on them all would bring fulfillment and happiness and they didn’t. It just pulled back the curtain and showed nothing behind it; and we got angry. We thought saying what we had to say because we had the right to free speech, even if it might hurt someone, would be worth it. This election year has thrived on it. We even thought that if people disagreed with us we should insult or just cut them out. This election year has taught us that. And here we are.

For the Sake Of…

Just think about it a moment. We have presidential candidates lying publicly, attacking anatomy of other candidates, name-calling, attack each others wives, and unable to even get through an hour or so of discussion without all of these things occurring. Mind you this is happening in front of millions of viewers. They are doing it all under the banner of, “truth” while trampling on the banner of “us”.

The people who are free are the ones who know that truth without love is no truth at all. Click to Tweet

See, the mature ones have found out something valuable long ago. It isn’t the ones who say whatever they want or even do whatever they want that have freedom. It’s those who have found a higher call of freedom. A call to, “think of others more highly than oneself”. It’s those who have learned to, “love their neighbor as themselves”. Its the people who, “love one another” in a way that makes others look in and ask questions. It’s the ones who have come to the deep realization that freedom as an end is most definitely death but freedom as a means to something bigger is life. It’s the ones who know everything hangs on two things… love God and love people. The people who are free are the ones who know that truth without love is no truth at all.

So, for the sake of us, and honestly the next generation, can we stop? Can we change? I think we have to and we have to do it now.

Greg Smith

Blogging about faith, life, church, and everything in between.

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