Unproductive Rage

The world is an angry place these days. There is a lot of rage. But not much is getting done. Problems aren’t being solved. Societal ills are threatening our very way of life. Divisions are growing deeper.

There’s nothing worse than unproductive rage. Unless we get beyond this as a society, we’re in trouble.

It’s easy to be outraged. There’s always something you disagree with strongly. Some decision or policy you think is stupid. Or worse. I have my list, and you probably have yours.

But it’s the unproductive part that makes it bad. It’s when we wallow in our outrage or are content to settle into our smug, angry selves. Feeling superior. Righteous. There’s nothing worse.

I wonder why we squander the motivation that outrage provides. Why we’re content to sit on our hands. To be sheep.

Perhaps it’s because it’s easier. After all, productivity — that is, actually doing something to fix the problem — can entail hard work. And risks. Even uncertainty. But if we can get by without making the effort, why bother?

That’s the aspect of unproductive outrage that is particularly problematic: the idea that we can get by without doing anything. Except venting that is. We fail to discern the corrosive, insidious effects of unproductive rage. The way it divides and strains the very fabric of society and its institutions. And our communities, families, and relationships.

Unproductivity in the face of rage fosters apathy and cynicism. And before we know it, hope is lost.

We’re living in an era of woefully inadequate leadership. Our institutions — whether they be government, companies, colleges, or churches — are lacking courageous, virtuous visionaries. I suppose there’s nothing new about this: we’ve gone through similar periods in the past.

Eventually, new blood will replace the old, tired blood. New blood will focus on possibilities. And the common good. Visionaries will emerge. Hopes and actions will unite energetically. People will see what’s possible and feel less encumbered by the problems, challenges, and differences. Less cynical. Less hopeless. Less mean. A new dawn will arise.

I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to see it, Vera. But it’s likely you will. It should be exciting. As your grandfather, I hope you’re part of it. I hope you make a contribution. It doesn’t have to be big. Big in the sense of broad impact that is. But it can be big in a way that matters. If you refuse to settle for rage. If you care. Deeply. And if you embrace virtue. Tightly.

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