Have you noticed lately, how mad everyone is? Angry, hurt, frustrated and vocal. Anger that ranges from casually inconvenienced to visceral rage, from all strata of society, throughout much of the Western world. I cannot speak to the East, because I don’t hear so much from the second and third world, it certainly seems though, that the privilege of first world habitation brings with it a desire or inclination to be whipped into a frenzy.
‘Road Rage’. Literally anger at THE ROAD. “HOW DARE YOU NOT DO THE 20km/hr OVER THE SPEED LIMIT THAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO RIGHT NOW…. GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!! ARGHHHHH”
‘Race Rage’. Exaggerating differences and the impact of these differences, causing various pockets of us and them. The Us invariably being denied opportunity due to the ever-present spectre of Them.
How so many people can reconcile in their heads that the problems caused in an entire country can be attributed to the smallest percentage, lowest socio-economic groups is beyond me, but it is certainly easy to whip people into a rage about it.
This anger has somehow lead to a shift in leadership across the world. In the Philippines death squads have killed thousands of people without trial, while allowing the President unprecedented approval ratings from an enraged population. In the United States, a President who lives in a GOLD TOWER somehow was elected on a platform that he understands the needs and lives of every day (angry) Americans. They are rallying around Confederate and Nazi flags and literally CARRYING BURNING TORCHES! In Great Britain voters approved a Brexit scheme that had no real details, and are now staring down the barrel of economic uncertainty off the back of voters that believed a small minority of immigrants were the reason they were denied personal opportunities and falling behind economically. In Australia, people are mad. I don’t actually even know what for. Mad at renewable energy, mad at incarcerated minors, mad at boats filled with desperate asylum seekers, as though a boat with 20 people on it will cause the economic destruction of our entire way of life. Mad at same sex marriage, mad at politicians with dual citizenship, mad at renewable energy and coal. It seems like people are angry wherever they possibly can be.
Politicians speak about where we are, and why that’s terrible. About the ‘mess they have been left with’, deflecting anger to people and parties that have long since lost their power. Encouraging people to rage at the past, as though that somehow improves the present, or absolves them of the responsibility of how things are now not how they were.
Newspaper headlines have rage inducing headlines splashed across them every day.
SOMEONE DID SOMETHING.
A PERSON SAID SOMETHING.
PEOPLE WHO LOOK DIFFERENT TO YOU DID SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULDN’T DO.
BE SCARED OF THIS THING.
BE MAD AT THIS OTHER THING.
It’s not that we are simply being incited to rage, we have our rage and our anxieties pointed down all the time. Pointed at people we don’t know, pointed at things we don’t understand, pointed at people who are down the chain from us. The upper class rage at the middle class, the middle class rage at the lower middle class, the lower middle class rage at the lower class, everyone rages at the unemployed, uneducated, freshy emigrated, incarcerated and disadvantaged.
Surely these unknown elements are the source of all our problems…. Or maybe they aren’t.
When I was a teenager, we were warned about Asians. Vietnamese Gangs. Cambodian Gangs. Truth be told, as a teen I was chased by some of these gangs, brandishing knives, samurai swords, trolley poles (the handles from shopping carts)… Alongside the Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant kids there were as many Caucasian kids in the gangs too. In fact, in the case of almost every gang ever, you can just refer to them as ‘Disenfranchised teenagers, who lack support, vision and encouragement, building their self-esteem and self-worth through a community of similarly difficult teens’.
Nowadays I couldn’t pin all the problems we face in society on Vietnamese… Their cuisine is too delicious, I can get it on Uber eats and Menulog for Gods sake! Most of us know a Vietnamese person and can vouch that ‘they’re ok’. The same goes for the Greeks and Italians that we all know and love. It’s hard to be mad at Italian immigrants when I look forward to the next opportunity to be fed to the point of bursting by my mates Nonna. There was a time though when they too bore the brunt of a country’s anger and spite.
How many of us know Sudanese kids? APEX is the gang du jour. The newest and most significant threat to our safety and way of life. Just like the Vietnamese, the Italians and the Chinese were at some point in time. How many of us know Muslims? They make up less than 2% of the population, but somehow they are ruining the very fabric of our society? Those newest to our country? Not the entrenched, the powerful and wealthy, the people who make decisions that decide whether we have access to welfare, healthcare and infrastructure?
Why do we allow these views and opinions to proliferate our social fabric?
Perhaps it is because people are blinded by anger, and enlightened by truth. Blind people are easier to lead, more inclined to give up their autonomy of direction.
One seeks the truth, making them harder to lead. If you are seeking, then by definition you must have some control over where you go looking. Being angry requires nothing more than just your own internal dissatisfaction. I don’t need facts to know I am angry about something, I just know that I feel mad about it.
Anger allows you to shift responsibility to the person or situation that ‘made you mad’. Never mind your choice to allow yourself to be enraged by things that make little logical sense, or that have no real impact on your life or even basis in fact. You can be mad. Didn’t get the job you wanted? Be mad at the person who got it.
Didn’t leave enough time to get where you were going? Be mad at traffic.
Can’t afford a house, or earn enough in your job? Get mad at refugees, who are obviously the reason housing prices have inflated astronomically in the past 30 years, even though the ones you are mad at they have only been arriving in the last 15 years.
Being mad at each other advances nothing, solves nothing and puts blinkers on society to the real things that oppress us. Looking down at the very small and the few things we do not understand prevents us from seeing the great problems that lie above us. Seek the truth, and look for reasons to help and solve problems rather than reasons to be mad.
With your eyes open, you will be harder to lead astray. I am no conspiracy theorist, but look to the actions of those in charge, look beyond the words and fear mongering. Look beyond the headlines and labels given to things we do not understand. The more you know, the harder you are to trick, just like the more you appreciate, the harder it is to be enraged.
Make an effort to understand. Make an effort to appreciate. Make an effort to Just Be Nice. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to create extraordinary positive change.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports