When you take a look around the internet or listen to the news, it seems that everyone has a legitimate reason, or two, to be angry these days. The left is mad, the right is mad, people in the middle are mad and those checked out are mad.
We have recalls on food that piss us off, a global crisis in the Gulf that enrages us, a financial climate of plunging home values, lost retirement funds and millions of lost jobs and of course, there is the anniversary of 9/11 that really sends some people over the moon. While all of these things can be justified as "real" reasons to invoke anger, the question I keep grappling with is, is our anger doing any good?
Over the past 20 years, it seems that our anger has reached a boiling point and I'm wondering how we can reel it back to a more reasonable place. Not sure what I mean? Try talking to anyone about politics that has an opposing view to your own. Is it a debate? A conversation? Do either of you really listen? Could you say at the end of the chat what their reasonable arguments are even if you don't agree with them? I have to wonder.
The last 20 years of politics has been quite tough on the American people. We've had serious debates about what is right and wrong and all of it is available in mainstream media so anyone interested can participate. This exceptional change has enriched us all. For those of us engaged, it has changed the climate of the family dinner table conversation and larger conversations with friends and family. Problem is, we don't all agree.
Certainly, I don't want to debate here what is right or wrong about today's political climate. The question worth asking is, "What impact is all of this having on our children?" Given that so many of us are living in blended environments made up of children, adults and grandparents, it's easy to see how our differences can cause stress. Especially if Winston Churchill's prediction is true that, "If you're young and a Republican you have no heart. If you're old and a Democrat you have no brain."
As we move into the next political debate, we would be wise to think about the messages we're modeling for our kids as our unresolved anger begins to flow out. It would be foolhardy not to recognize that we're a country of angry people. Those of us engaged in reading the news, following politics and open to debating the ins and outs are all scared by the last two decades of high-drama that has unfolded before our eyes. Certainly there will be hot topics that people within family units disagree on, and there is a reason to hash those topics out.
I would challenge each of us to take time to think about how we want to do this because our behavior will directly impact the next generation.
- If we character bash not just politicians but our family too, our kids will do the same.
- If we speak without listening, our kids will do it too.
- If we argue loudly with colorful four-letter words, our kids will do the same.
- If we personalize our anger and judge a person as stupid and uneducated, our kids will do it too.
- If we bully those with opposing viewpoints, our kids will do it too.
Simply stated, our behavior will be modeled.