Books outrage because they fail to represent everyone, or because the author isn’t part of the representation, but has appropriated some representation for art’s sake. Songs outrage because of their content or the lives of the singers. Celebrities must be scourged for sins of the present and the past. Even people who are outraged at others outrage, outrage others by not having been outraged before it was trending. There are feeds and whole websites devoted to shaming whoever it is, or telling of the shame witnessed, so that we can feel better than whoever it is that did something worse.
To maintain a proper level of socially acceptable anger, the emotional muscles must be fed constantly. Eventually, that means everyone else must be scourged. There isn’t an end. It isn't that the pain of the past and present don't matter, it's that they cannot be all that matters. Eliminating all the good, because people wanted to overlook the evil, is just as much a form of wilful blindness. It's a gnostic vision of reality at best, and damning with a Calvinist view of the select few who "get it," that elite being anyone who recognizes everyone else is going to hell and rightly so even if they profess not to believe in a hell.
History outrages for what people did, and what people didn’t do. The present outrages because everyone lacks sufficient tact, charity and charm to be aware of everyone else’s feelings, and because sometimes, people get fed up with using these devices, since it doesn’t ever seem to garner gratitude. Present people outrage for failing to be woke enough, and for failing to be woke sooner and for all those who aren't outraging over the right thing at the right time in sufficient degree.
Going to the book store and the book festival, I saw titles of outrage on parade for all the pains of the past and present, for every reason. Indeed, after perusing the stacks, coming upon a booth where the writer posted her coloring book, “The Happy Mouse of Harvest,” somehow felt like it must be ironic. It wasn’t but I recognized how jaded I’d become, feasting daily on the news of the day, the daily slights and insults gossiped by the DJ’s of celebrities, the newest viral outrage, of politics, of Facebook and in my emails from lobbying groups demanding I write and let everyone know, that I, like everyone else, felt my wounds, reopened those that threatened to heal, and proclaim myself and everyone else a victim or an advocate for a victim, angered by whatever wrong someone perpetuated.
That’s the problem with a steady diet of anger…it wearies the soul, it erodes the capacity to relate to others, and blunts any joy drawn from beauty, from simple pleasures, from ordinary life. It is only in recognizing the humanity of another, that we can know something other than "the incalculable pain, of pitched countless souls into Hades’ dark.” --which the motto and inspiration of the age (rage), demands.
No society can long endure when everything and everyone is considered unbearable, when all suffering and slights, all hurts are beyond the pale, and nothing is forgivable, much less forgettable. If all sins must their debts be paid with interest in this world without forgiveness, we will succumb to a revenge culture, until we erode into mere revenge. We will become a nation of islands, unwilling to submit to the demands of friendship, much less love, in our attempt to avoid disappointment, pain, suffering, and sacrifice, and to avoid becoming the focus of others wrath as the mob instinct becomes more the norm. The center cannot hold.
Last night, two children were having a teen based disagreement, where looks and simple movements…like changing seats became viewed as tactile slights and hurts. I took out the Magnificat and showed the day’s Gospel and underlined the lines. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” They’re not there yet, they’re not even sure they want to move but I’m patient, because I know all love is a gift not merited, but always given. It cannot be forced even by moms who want everyone to knock it off. We can only seek to become closer to being worthy of such a gift. If we want a better family, a better world, a better relationship with anyone, including ourselves, we’d best get to giving, to forgiving, and being for forgiving. I send both to bed.
I'll figure out something to do with both of them in the morning, something genreous, unexpected and hope it reminds them, this is how we start.
P.S. It worked.