Is there more Anger in the 21st Century?


Yesterday a friend vetched about the term, “Polar vortex.” “It’s cold,” she barked in frustration. “It makes me so angry.”
I reminded her, maybe unkindly, of her biting off my head a year ago when I’d used the term, and she generously laughed. I suspect she would grow hot at the phrase, “heat index,” and that the term “wind chill” would turn her cold.
I was impressed, because language terms can annoy me, like the expression “Have a good day.” But the things that truly anger me seem so much more threatening to the Common Good, and I’m sure my friend would agree to many levels of deeper anger.
Living with disability, I, rightly or wrongly, identify with others in minority groups. So that the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and of Eric Garner in NYC spark my anger and sense of widespread injustice. I do understand the complexities of the policeman’s job, the fear and the instincts that can take over. And of course, the retaliatory murder of the two policemen in response also angered and dismayed me. All these deaths were tragic.
Equally so, the deaths yesterday in Paris to the journalists and others on the site of the satiric magazine. So often I find myself asking if there is more rage or more freedom to vent it in this 21st century? Was there a time when we as a nation and a globe less given to anger? With friends we often challenge each other to choose a decade to live in. All seem equally brutal. But to Ilse, our surrogate relative who spent many years in various Nazi death camps, this 21st century seems even angrier and more lacking in human kindness.
I sense a great anxiety in our country, incomes slipping, people’s working efforts increasing, while problems escalate with hardly a solution in sight. I don’t know how to address the anger that seems almost palpable in the world today other than to try to curb my own anger and cleave to the ample good that’s available. Managing that, possibly I can spread around humor and generosity of spirit.

About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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