Why So Angry?

I talked to a friend the other day who is not American but living in America. He mentioned how crazy people were getting with the election. A friend of his had an outburst against him because they had a disagreement over some of the domestic issues being wrestled over in the States. The wife had to apologize on his behalf saying the news that day had just made him so angry.

Why are people in the U.S. so angry?

I just got done watching a teaching lecture on TED by Jonathan Haidt on the Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives. In it he explains how traditionally there been 5 areas of “morality” that are found in every culture in every era. They are:
* Harm / Care
* Fairness /Reciprocity
* Ingroup / Loyalty
* Authority / Respect
* Purity / Sanctity

The study showed that the great civilizations are ones that were able to utilize all 5 disciplines. However those that view themselves as liberal focus on the first two, whereas conservatives score high on the last three. The liberals challenge to Ingroup – Loyalty is to “Celebrate Diversity” to Authority – Respect is “Question Authority” and to Purity – Sanctity “Keep your laws off my body”. Although done for noble reasons, often these elements chip away at order. Says Haidt:

Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed. Want change and justice,
even at the risk of Chaos”
Conservatives speak for institutions & traditions. Want order, even
at a cost to those on the bottom

The verdict is that both are needed by a society in order to stand.

Thats why I find it strange that Americans get so angry at those who champion these different areas of morality.

Sarah Palin gets picked as a VP candidate and she is HATED. I’ve seen some anti-Palin rally footage and thought, “Are you kidding me?” You may think her unqualified, disagree with her positions etc. but why the anger?
On the flip side, I got an e-mail from a newsletter that I usually respect that said, “Obama must be Stopped”. Stopped from WHAT sheriff? You may think him unqualified and disagree with his positions, but why the anger?

To my McCain backing friends: Obama is not the anti-Christ. If he is elected (and he probably will be) the sky is not going to fall, abortions won’t be available in supermarkets and gays won’t be getting married on your front lawn.

To my Obama backing friends: If McCain is elected, we are not going to invade Iran, Canada, or France. The poor and homeless are not going to be executed or tortured. Christianity is not going to become the state religion and Jack Bauer is not going to be made Secretary of State

So can everyone PLEASE take a chill pill, dial it down about 5 notches, and get a life!

3 comments

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  • Every news channel on TV feeds the anger. That’s why my family doesn’t get cable.

    I’m addicted to TED.com, though!

  • Steve,

    What a great post. Thank you, thank you. I too heard Jonathan Haidt on that TED lecture. I love TED.


    The verdict is that both are needed by a society in order to stand.

    Exactly! And as he explained while we each hold up our version of truth we must be careful to do so with “moral humility.”

    Your ending, “take a chill pill” is brilliant and a clarion call for sanity in these turbulent times.

    Bravo Steve and thanks again.

  • Thanks Sherry. Your comment was very encouraging

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