Dealing with Fear and Anger
There is something seriously wrong with country, with our world. This thought may come to people's minds when they read about unemployment, as they ponder the latest heat wave, or, today, think about a shooting in Wisconsin. Our emotions get further stirred up as we watch the news on TV, read the news online, or see what our friends are posting in social media. It is amplified when it touches close to home like when a friend struggles because of poor health or unemployment.
I'm sitting in my living room as a storm front rolls through. I've been reading various material online about the shooting in Wisconsin. Some people try to explain it in terms of people who don't know the difference between a Sikh and a Sheikh, as if shooting one and not the other is okay. The words of John Donne come back to me:
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
It doesn't matter if the person who died is Sikh, Sheikh, father or son, each man's death diminishes me.
People will argue about gun control, better access to mental health, politicizing tragedies, and a million other topics, but it feels like these really miss the point.
We all get angry. We all get frustrated. We all try to find ways to deal with these feelings. Some of us may post mean comments on blogs. Some of us my flip off a driver who cuts us off, or we may be the ones cutting off other people.
We may look at people as different from ourselves, as 'other'. We may place our fears and angers in others and, to use the words of some of my psychologist friends, try to 'kill off' those whom we've placed our fears and angers in. In horrible cases, this desire to kill off our fears and angers moves from a psychological analogy to a physical tragedy.
Meanwhile, those of us abhorred by the shootings view the shooters as the others. We may want them killed off with the death penalty and we try to ignore any ways in which we might have similar fears, angers, or other things in common with the shooters.
Yes, there are some things seriously wrong with our country and our world, but they are not so bad that we must take up arms. Today, while someone was shooting up a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, I was going door to door in Woodbridge, introducing myself to my neighbors in the hope of getting them to support my bid to become their State Representative. It was hot and muggy as the sweat poured down my back. There were times that I was hopeful as I spoke with neighbors and other times I was disappointed. I came home, exhausted.
There are still three months until the election. I don't know if I will get elected. However, if I just get a few more people to deal constructively with their political fears and angers, if I just get a few people to not lash out at others, even if it is something as simple as getting people to treat other drivers with respect, I will have made a difference, and if I can bring a little respect and dignity to politics in Hartford, well, that could be huge.