Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Are We So Angry?

While we in the nation’s capital are fairly insulated from the ire going on around us, it is hard not to notice that things have gotten a little tense in this country. Like the scene that ensues when the drunk girl vomits on the floor at a party, things have changed from the jovial post-election pride and excitement to a standoff that’s leaving everyone trying to decide just what to think. Just like at that party, though, no one is making any serious attempts to clean up this mess.

Most of the anger seems to be centered on the healthcare reform debate, which is certainly surprising to me. You would think that with two wars, a recession, and the biggest corporate bailout in history having just recently left the realm of the present, that these would be the divisive issues. And in a way they are, but healthcare reform has become symbolic of where we draw lines in this country at the moment.

Throughout all the recent turmoil, we’ve gotten through it as a nation because we “had to”. We rubberstamped one war and program after another. Why? Because we were told that if we didn’t, there would be untold repercussions both at home and abroad. It appears that we are, at the moment, experiencing a backlash both towards those policies and any new ones.

There is a huge population that those of us who live here in the center of it all, are not really aware of. It would be easy to brand those people who are against Obama’s healthcare policy as simply greedy and unwilling to do something altruistic, but is it true? While there may be a modicum of truth to that, there is a lot more nuance to this story than many would like to give. It is not just that some people are opposed to anything that’s good and pure. What they appear to be against, is a perceived lack of voice in government. No one is hoping that the “good ol’ days” of the Bush administration will come back. These same disenfranchised people were dissatisfied under Bush as well. The difference is that they see in Obama, a vision that is so different from the status quo that it is much more frightening than Bush. The natural fear of change is burgeoned by conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. It’s not like me to attack someone, but let’s call a spade a spade; they are using their exalted positions and access to spread lies. This is a bigger problem than we realize.

If a whole group of people don’t trust mainstream media, and only get their information from people who have repeatedly been exposed as lying, we are going to continue to be a nation divided. One question that we need to ask ourselves, as a nation is this: Do we want to be on the winning side of history or the right side of it? There will certainly be times that both are possible, but the uncertainty of the present makes decisions hazy.

I suppose that the situation could be boiled down to this: We live in frightening times. We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. I don’t think that we should blindly follow anything that the Obama administration suggests, but I do know this. We, as a people, wanted a change. We wanted things to be better than they were before and we didn’t want to be content with admiring our past as our future falls apart around us. Maybe we’ve been lulled into complacency for too long, but change is hard. Change means we’ll have to sacrifice something. If we can all agree to sacrifice a bit, regardless of our specific political orientation. If we can all agree to be a little more selfless, we might just be a little less angry.

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