People are losing it. Really.
Across the political divide, we are all on edge. The anti-vaxxers who believe the end of the world is coming. The bullies who attack ER nurses. The rage filling town halls over critical race theory. The parents sending their unable-to-be-vaccinated kids to school and the rage they feel at those who flaunt their maskless faces. The suspicious glances in the store. The fights at school and on the internet. Even, let’s say, the bad art friend.
Things are bananas.
Way back in 2003, I distinctly remember having a conversation with my mom about G.W. Bush, the Iraq War, and how Cheney wanted us to duct tape our windows. I joked about rage overload. There was a litany of atrocities that we witnessed and couldn’t do anything about. Remember Abu Ghraib? How is that so long ago?
Spencer Ackerman makes the case that this war on terror has lead us to the current environment where rampant nativism and fear have caused people to lose it:
The war on terror — and the panoply of excesses it unleashed — eroded the institutional armor of American democracy and left the country defenseless against its own pathologies. And those pathologies, which Ackerman lays out with meticulous attention, prepared the ground for a figure like Trump.
So here we are 20 years later in a pandemic on a dying planet.
I have been thinking about this rage and how anger is an emotion in reaction to a perceived injustice. I have been thinking about the stress cycle and what this endless rage means for our bodies (& if you haven’t yet, listen to the podcast episode). I have been thinking about what it’s doing to our minds, how we are more inclined to believe in scarcity so that we must fight and claw our way to the top. I know it has made it difficult to write, to imagine better places. It’s like a miasma has settled around my head.
Anne Helen Peterson wrote a piece on radicalization during the pandemic. We are writing these articles and tweets and having conversations about how exhausted we are how angry we are — and so, she asks, what are we going to do about it?
If it’s helpful to you, here’s what I am doing:
- I am attempting to limit my phone usage. I put a timer on my social media for 15 minutes. I found I was going to my phone out of habit and not of need. Stepping away from Twitter has helped has reduced the intake of additional horror. Stepping away from Insta has tempered my envy of other people’s successes.
- I am reading The Hope of Snakes about wildlife in urban areas of the Northeast. It’s shown me resilience and beauty, which is much needed.
- I am volunteering with Elect the Boston School Committee and writing op-eds and letters to the editor. Writing to enact change. Vote #YesOn3!
- In my creative work, I try to find one small thing I can do a day that will move my poems forward. Sometimes it’s journaling for 15 minutes or noticing something outside. It’s a daily reminder to myself to do what I love.
- Trying to treat myself with kindness (the hardest one!)
Please let me know your tips for managing the rage or finding ways to bring more joy into your life. My heart feels better when I hear good news, like vaccines coming soon for younger kids.
As always, thanks for sticking with me through these random rants. I promise more creative and fun things are coming in the future. Right now though, the rage must be heard.