It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenge. A year of fear, uncertainty, distrust, and most evidently, anger. There is so much anger. It spews from the mouths of our peers and flows through the fingertips of those behind the screen. It is rampant and rabid, and it shows no sign of slowing down. So I have found myself feeling pushed to ask something so basic; why? Why are we so angry? When did we decide to allow external factors to reach deep into our souls and pull out the part of us that creates harmony?
Liberal vs. Conservative
Republican vs. Democrat
Black vs. White
You vs. Me
Them vs. Us
And those are just the obvious ones. Despite the results of this turbulent 2020 Presidential Election, the embodiment of versus is the true winner here. And its grand prize? Humanity. Sitting on some mahogany fireplace mantel far from our reach. Collecting dust while so many of us beg for its return.
This embodiment of versus has grown exponentially since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. With white gloves and a silver platter, we were handed a reason to be angry. Perhaps initially this was simply fear masked as anger, but eventually it grew into its own rare form of monster. The kind that makes you check under your bed and behind that closed shower curtain. And because we were scared and struggled to make sense of the gravity of what we were about to face, we lashed out like teenage girls who decide to pierce their belly buttons to protest that they are not little kids anymore.
And then came the slam dunk. If there ever was a time to say “seal the deal” this would be it. Solitude hit hard. We found ourselves feeling both fearful and alone. No matter how many amazing memes about introverts there are, humans are a social species. We thrive with a sense of togetherness. Strip that away and we begin to questions our purpose. And since we are confined within these walls, we seek engagement. This is where social media steps in like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Insert the chaos of tweets and posts and dance videos and hearts. The battleground built specific for those who are scared, alone, and now…angry. We type words that our mouths quite possibly never would have spoken. Words that if sitting face-to-face with our so-called opposer would have never even crossed our minds. Because behind a screen we don’t see the dimples that disrupt their cheeks or that scar on their forehead from the time they crashed their bike in the 4th grade. We don’t see the shakiness in their hands or the fear in their eyes; a fear that if we looked closely enough, would perfectly resemble that of our own. We see variations of the alphabet that form sentences. Full of emotional words but void of all emotion. The enemy has arrived to the battleground. Let the games begin.
I, myself, have fallen into its trap. Brought into a space where a differing opinion had resulted in my allowance of an anger that was suffocating. I have typed words only to later erase them. But this is just the thing, unlike that social media post, the affect of those words cannot be erased. They exist because they happened, not because we can or cannot still see them. I thought that proving my point or changing some minds was the gratification I needed, but when the dust settled nothing had changed. When you allow yourself to harness that kind of anger, you begin to feel the slow disintegration of your mind, body, and soul. And I think there is an importance in acknowledging the concept of allowing ourselves to be angry. Too often we blame an external force or being for our anger, but at the end of each day, we are 100% responsible for our emotional responses. Does your anger fuel you to make a difference and change the word? Or does that anger cause you to pick a target and aim to destroy on demand?
Perhaps we should all just pause real quick. Take a deep breath, release the tension from our overly exhausted shoulders, and just be. Be aware of our feelings, our motivations and our desires. Be honest. Be humble. Just be.
The solution has never been division. It has never been segregation and inequality. It has never been hate. And most importantly right now, it has never been about the severing of the ties of humanity. If we can’t turn off the screens, let us at least turn off the anger. Let us at least type words of understanding.
In the words of the honorable and truly magnificent Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”