May 072015 6 Responses

Refuse the Rage

It’s the driving characteristic of our culture. We are outraged.

We are:

  • shocked
  • indignant
  • insulted
  • offended
  • appalled
  • dismayed

We can’t believe what they said, what he did, or what she wore. (See: Stop Breaking the Ninth Commandment on Facebook)

Nothing defines today’s culture like outrage. Scroll through Facebook and you can barely go three posts without seeing someone enraged by something. Listen in the stands at the ballgame and you will someone venting their shock. Sit in the barbershop and someone is demeaning another person for some opinion or stance.

We are the outraged generation.

But why?

Why is outrage such a defining aspect of our day?

We think it’s because times are so bad. We assume it is because our political opponents are so evil. We believe we live in a unique time. (See: Why Can’t We See In Ourselves What We See In Others)

But it’s not true. Our days are no more evil, no more unique, or no more trying. We aren’t outraged because of the day in which we live. We are outraged because we are afraid.

Outrage is often the byproduct of us stripping another person of their humanity and writing the story that they are not as loving, thoughtful, or compassionate as we are. Instead of simply believing someone is wrong, we demonize them and define them as evil. This allows us to feel outrage.

Why are we so drawn to outrage? We love to be appalled by others because it makes us feel better about ourselves.

It’s useful to disagree, but what is the point of being indignant?

  • It doesn’t change minds.
  • It doesn’t make my point more valid.
  • It doesn’t make your opinion less meaningful.

All it does is make connection and communication less likely. But maybe this is the reason we choose rage.

Maybe we are outraged simply because we don’t want to communicate with others. We would much rather scream our opinions than take the time to listen to one another. (See: Drama Addicts–Why Your Co-Worker is Always Stressed)

We hate nuance. We refuse discernment. We prefer to punch and run. We scream our opinions and hide behind the volume of our voice never realizing our outrage is actually a sign of our fear.

We fear the unknown. We understand our opinions. We assume if things go as we think they should, the outcomes would be predictable. We don’t understand alternative opinions. Because we can’t understand how an opposing opinion is formed, we struggle to see any possible good outcome from an opinion different than our own.

We fear the uncontrollable. So much of our lives can’t be controlled. Even if we have the opportunity to control certain things, we often lack the ability to do so. This inability to control many things gives birth to fear. It causes us to desperately search for things we think should be controlled. Unable to control our own lives, we scream at others to control their own. The more removed we are from the situation, the more we assume our opinion is right. (See: Why Your Co-Worker Screams His Opinions)

But what if we refused the rage?

What if we recognized our lack of knowledge or control? What if we accepted the mystery which is life? What if we embraced the uncertainty and guarded the humanity of others?

Consider how radically different we would be if we simply refused to escalate the tension and instead attempted to put every disagreement into its proper context?

I’m not saying we should deny differences. I’m claiming that when we disagree with others, we do so in a way that respects their humanity, properly represents their opinions, and kindly communicates different viewpoints.

It means at home we have conflict with our spouses, but we do so in a way that sticks to a single issue and does not allow the conflict to ripple into every aspect of our relationship.

As parents, we refuse to allow the immaturity of our children to draw us into childish behavior. We repeatedly calm them down, help them focus, and empower them to make wise choices in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Online it means we simply IGNORE most of the things with which we disagree. We don’t condemn, confront, or convict because online disagreements are rarely useful. If we choose to state our disagreement, we do so in a kind, compassionate, and restrained way which doesn’t water down the truth, but does softly communicate our point.

Refuse the rage.

  • When everyone else becomes more passionate, you become less.
  • When others raise their voices, lower yours.
  • When people make their attacks personal, determine not to attack back.
  • When your child throws a fit, refuse to throw yours. (See: On Throwing a Fit)
  • When someone makes a stupid post on Facebook, simply ignore it.

The world has enough enraged people. We don’t need another person appalled at life. We need someone willing to de-escalate the conversation, bring a calm demeanor to the relationship, and to keep issues in their proper context.

We need to refuse the rage.

 

6 Responses to Refuse the Rage
  1. Waina Reply

    I really enjoyed this article. We lost a long time acquaintance because we ignored/refused to like their mean spirited post. I have noticed as I scroll facebook my prayer list grows! Happy.Friday to you!

  2. Michael Reply

    Like it…

    Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

    Good sense makes one slow to anger,
    and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

  3. Ellen Reply

    Amen. I agree the root cause is fear. And it’s the constant outrage over politics that seems to engender the most heat, at least in my experience. I hate the sensational headlines (and let’s be honest, they are mostly from the right), the need to “win,” personal attacks, and the “us vs. them” view of life. Strong differences are perfectly appropriate. Attempts to root out corruption should be welcomed. Exposing lies and cover-ups aren’t wrong. But where did believers get the idea that defeating political enemies will bring spiritual victory? Which Kingdom are we about? If it’s the latter, we need to decide if all that outrage is working for us.

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