I was listening to NPR’s “All Things Considered” today as I was driving, and one of the women commenting on the recent epidemic of sexual harassment cases said this was her slogan of the year: “Be more mad!”
As soon as she said it, I realized our society has been so angry this year.
Granted, American society has been increasingly dissatisfied and angry as the years progress, but 2017 takes the cake. If you think about it though, isn’t the anger warranted?
We have witnessed deep division in America, increasing discrimination against minorities, an ever-growing, unprecedented amount of sexual harassment cases, mass shootings, terror attacks and constant beatdowns.
We saw a presidential inauguration that drew violence from those opposed to it, and we saw scores of people rally together over a multitude of issues throughout the year.
We heard about travel bans and a growing refugee crisis. We watched another crisis begin in Myanmar with the massacring of Rohingya Muslims and saw Americans gunned down in Las Vegas. It has been one tough year.
When I think about each of these moments in history, I get angry. My spirit is riled up to retaliate. Seeing the affliction of real humans and hearing more stories of pain and suffering only perpetuates a burning anger in my soul. But, is that all there is?
I’m challenged to take action in the face of the horrible events that have occurred. The ball is in mine and your court. I have this anger, now what do I do with it?
Do I rant on Facebook about how I disagree with what the President is saying and doing while beating down my friends' opinions with each click on my keyboard? Do I get into arguments with family and friends because I can’t possibly understand how they think lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% is beneficial for the majority of Americans? Do I type out all of my feelings into a blog post, desperately hoping someone will read it and say, “Right?!”
To me, all of that is pointless rhetoric that does nothing more than reopen the wounds American society has only been able to patch with a child-size Band-Aid. We have used our anger as an excuse to prove points, act in a childish manner and lash out at others.
Why don’t we act on our anger instead of out of it so we don’t endure it anymore? I mean, who enjoys being angry? It’s exhausting.
What if we saw more people unite over preventing sexual assault, calling out those who take part in it and quit blaming the victim? What if we stood up in the face of hateful speech and said we won’t tolerate it anymore and act? What if we gave up our precious time and used it to alleviate the affliction our neighbors, friends and others across the globe face each day.
I understand that a lot of people have called for action and a lot of people are acting. This was evident to a point in the travel ban protests and other gatherings during the year.
But, a time must come where we stop allowing our anger to get the best of us and pull us into a deep pit of hate and apprehension to engaging society. Violence and forcing opinions will never work.
Awareness of the issues the world faces daily is all well and good, but action brings about change. We can raise awareness of refugee crises, sexual harassment and discrimination all day long, but until we humble ourselves to realize that we are all talk and no action, nothing will change.
This requires the painful process of conviction and an openness to allow our hearts to be changed. It’s hard, and that’s why our society is where it is. We don’t enjoy the hard things, so we avoid and ignore them.
I’ve thought about the desires I have in my own life to affect change. I think about how quite honestly, my journalistic work may have a very tiny impact on the world and may change very little. I realize this short essay probably won’t afford any change at all.
But, I’ve always approached circumstances with the mindset of, “If just one person is changed or their eyes are opened to realize something new as a result of what I’ve been called to do, then it’s all worth it.” And I hope you’ll take that and meditate on it. The smallest act could change the world’s course forever.
So, be more mad, but don’t forget to act in 2018.