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Dr. Seuss & the Next Outrage

Outrage: an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.

These days, it's mostly mock shock.

Whether it's news media, social media, or just a casual conversation with a friend, it seems like we have arrived at the saturation point of outrage in our society.

Outrage drives political correctness. It drives cancel culture. It drives politics. It sells books. It bankrupts companies. It makes fiction go viral. And it is as annoying as 3 toddlers fighting over who gets to be first in line to walk to the playground.

But what is it really? What is outrage?

In our 21st century American culture, it's often little more than affluence and boredom looking for something exciting to do. It's emptiness and aimlessness looking for purpose and significance. And it frequently seems to stem from pompous self-righteousness and immature narcissism.

May calmer tempers prevail.

Indeed, Solomon taught that there is a time for everything. Yes, even a time for outrage. Jesus Himself demonstrated outrage on more than one occasion. But He did not walk the earth in a continual state of dramatic fury.

Peace be with you. I leave my peace with you. Let not your heart be troubled. Don't be afraid.

Don't get me wrong. There are more than aplenty reasons for us to be legitimately bothered. And I'm not talking about getting rid of plastic straws or recoiling in horror at the present danger of being exposed to (((gasp))) Dr. Seuss' books. Oh, the humanity!

It really does seem that we are in a perpetual cycle of rejecting things just so we can - Oh, I don't know - sooth our conscience or keep life interesting, or something. But people aren't freaking out over worthy causes. At least not usually. The vast majority of noisy voices aren't outraged about the plodding massacre of unborn humans, or the accumulation of our national debt, or the debasing of human sexuality, or the absurdity of the theory of evolution and the propaganda machines that educate our children. Oh sure, there are a few boisterous voices decrying these blights. But no, the masses mostly reserve their posturing moral superiority and virtue signaling for petty offenses and imagined dangers.

It's almost like the same mob that wants all traditional morals dismantled and all stable systems destroyed also wants to simultaneously erect artificial morals in their place and new systems that simply oppress the former "oppressors." Instead of class warfare, it's some kind of nebulous social warfare. And nobody is safe. The targets are innumerable, fluid, and transient. Just like communists turn against themselves, so too do the woke social justice warriors of today.

But it isn't just the emotional liberals doing this. It's also gullible conservatives.

So, what's the solution?

One of the things we can do is to actually listen. Raving liberals and terrified traditionalists do have something in common. Truth. There are lots of lies too, but hidden underneath is always some sliver of truth. There is enough truth (in what ignites them) to fuel their rage and to keep them from ever showing actual tolerance toward those with whom they disagree.

Now, I'm not claiming that we could get Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow to dialogue and thereby become centrists. Moderation doesn't usually build crowds or gain momentum. And pundits on both sides are surely sincere in their perspectives, but they also make their money by feeding fans and infuriating enemies. What we can do is listen to them and look for the legitimate issues that lie underneath their rhetoric.

I'm a conservative. I'm a traditionalist. So it won't do much good for me to listen for the "good points" in Tucker's diatribes. I like Tucker and often agree with him. What I have to do is listen for the "good points" made by the other side. That's hard.

Now, the strategies they offer (by "they" I mean political or philosophical or social or moral or theological liberals) for fixing legitimate problems are not likely to ever be good strategies. But the problems are not imaginary.

For example: poverty is a legitimate problem. Oppression is real. Inequality exists. Et cetera.

I doubt that the proper solutions for those problems will ever be socialism, rioting, or deeply biased sensitivity training. But we accomplish nothing by denying the existence or the seriousness of the problems themselves. If we can find actual solutions to the root problems, then we neuter the feral force of destruction that threatens to overrun us and we weaken the position of our supplanters.

Now, this shouldn't just be about strengthening our ideological tribe. A rising tide lifts all boats. That may be an economic principle, but it can apply elsewhere too. So logically, if we can solve the serious problems that our opponents are talking about, then they will likely lose the platform they are standing on; the very platform they use to trumpet their outrage at imaginary offenses.

Of course, in the end we are not wrestling with people anyway. We aren't fighting against programs, policies, or parties. We are in a war with Satan himself and his imps. Some people say that they don't want to talk about religion or politics, but those are 2 of the 4 languages in which he is probably the most fluent (perhaps sex and money being in 3rd and 4th place).

Satan is an expert at retraining the human conscience. He knows that we crave virtue while we simultaneously cultivate only vice. So, what does he do? He calls a vice a virtue. Then we buy that and so he thereby sinks 2 hooks into us at once.

Woe to those who call good evil and evil good. Woe to those who replace light with darkness and swap the names of darkness with light. This applies across the board. We don't want God's opponents to get away with calling righteousness a sin. So, we must never use the designation of "goodness" for something that is so obviously evil.

The most glaring example of this is the civil rights movement. Discrimination based upon skin color is not acceptable. Forced segregation was and is morally wrong. Racial tension as a result of oppression of the minority by the majority is reprehensible. But why is it that the loudest voices decrying these evils are usually on the liberal side of everything else? And why do otherwise sensible people often alternate between denial and excuse (at least that has been my experience).

An argument ends when both sides agree. So pull the stinger from the liberal opportunist by crying louder and working harder than he (or she) does to end racism and injustices that clearly follow along ethnic lines. It's harder to dismiss frivolous complaints (like the existence of Dr. Seuss) when we are also ignoring legitimate complaints. When we ignore or deny the real problem, the legitimacy of the one complaint carries over into a wide variety of illegitimate ones.

I guess what I'm saying is that if we would be outraged at the right times and for the right reasons (to the point of action) then perhaps we wouldn't have to deal with the numberless ridiculous outrages that currently distract us.

Think of it like snakes and earthworms. If we know there are snakes around and we don't do anything to get rid of them, then who can blame the ophidiophobe when he (or she) screams at the appearance of every wiggling earthworm. But if it is taken seriously and the snakes are eradicated, then we won't have to worry, respond, or bother with the occasional scream that harmless fish bait initiates.

I don't know. Those are my thoughts about it today anyway. Mostly I'm just tired of all the outrage, especially when it seems to mostly be about nothing. Real problems get ignored and straw men get destroyed.

What will it be next?

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