Summary: Hundreds of posts about reforming America have struck no strikes with readers. So I’m doing it wrong. Dry analysis of the problem takes the wrong path. Let’s focus on motivating people, stoking the need to act. Perhaps anger is answer.
“Anger is easy. Anger at the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, is difficult.”
— Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, (paraphrased).
“Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.”
— Odysseus, the film The Odyssey (1997).
Look at the Wikiquote page for “anger”. Few of the sages quoted there have much good to say about it. They counsel calm and contemplation. For some people that produces a steely resolve. But not always. Sheep are calm, perhaps contemplative, but not estimable.
To get action a disengaged passive people, like Americans today, perhaps we should target the spirits, not the mind. Arouse anger. Anger at what we have become and how America changes. Like most things, anger can be a force for good or ill. Today it might be the missing element of a reform program.
“America is no longer, what it could be, what it once was. And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children.”
— Barack Obama, 6 August 2008 — see the video here. See discussion of this incident here.
“An experience of profound contempt is necessary in order to grasp our situation, and our capacity for contempt is vanishing.”
— Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, chapter “Values” (1987)
Anger does it no good if it’s like the anger of watching the home team lose. It does no good unless coupled with assumption of responsibility for America, and so produces a willingness to act. We have reason for anger, at ourselves and at our leaders.
Start the fire: why do we still have troops in Afghanistan?
Let’s begin with a clear and searing issue. We still have troops in Afghanistan, a 13th year of fighting, long after the folly of this occupation became obvious.
How long into 2014 should we watch the body bags come home? 118 YTD. How much time will we spend with injured and crippled soldiers in hospitals and rehab? How much time will we spend listening to Gold Star Mothers talk about their lost children and spouses? How long can we do these things and not get angry?
How long should we listen to people exploit for political gain the few deaths in Benghazi while they ignore the far larger and continuing toll in Afghanistan? We quietly listen, like sheep.
I have written 160 articles during the past decade about this mad expedition — as have many others (many far more knowledgeable and skillful than I). Reasonable, heavily documented, dispassionate articles. All in vain. The vehemence has all been on the other side, and so they’ve won. Year after year.
As they say at Alcoholics Anonymous, insanity is repeating the same behavior but expecting a different result. Perhaps it is time try something different. Logic and knowledge can only do so much. Passion and spirit must carry us forward.
“Beware the fury of a patient man.”
— John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681).
How to arouse Americans to anger
Perhaps if more Americans spent more time with Vets coming home — especially the injured and crippled — more would work to end this war.
Perhaps if more Americans spent time attending military funerals, consoling the families of dead vets, planting flags on graves of the lost — more would work to end this war.
Perhaps if we got Congress to fund our wars with a special tax — visible on every paycheck, every bond interest payment, every dividend — then more would work to end this war. Perhaps Americans love their money more than their troops, more than their nation. Perhaps this is the only way to reach America.
Each person that one of these things can become an angry citizen, someone whose passion for reform can infect others. The Republic-that-once-was lies prostrate, as the 1% plan to build a New Republic on its ruins. We must start now. Time is not our ally.
Anger assists hands however weak.
— Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), I. 7. 66.
“If not now, when?”
— Patrick Henry, 23 March 1775. Click here for more advice from him.
For More Information
- Now is the time for America to get angry, 24 March 2009
- Re-envisioning the FM website, becoming soldiers in the war for American’s future, 21 December 2009
- Vital reading for America: two stories that might help arouse us to action, 17 January 2013
- The Idiocies of “Oversight” and “Accountability”, 9 February 2013
- In “Network”, Howard Beale asks us to get mad and do something. He’s still waiting., 19 October 2013