Monday, June 02, 2008

Righteous Anger

With all due credit and respect to Greta Christina.

There's a lot that gets me angry, and most of it should get you angry, too:

  1. My federal government is slowly getting around to maybe implementing a climate change policy that could possibly have an effect on reducing carbon emissions below what they are now at some point in the distant future. When my provincial government porposed a system that is better (though still not enought), the federal environment minister said it was "smoke and mirrors", and would simply allow big polluters to keep polluting. The sheer audacity of his bullshit makes me mad.

  2. An Iraqi woman who left her husband because he stomped his daughter to death to protect his honour has been gunned down.

  3. The US dragged my country into a stupid war in a virtual black hole in a fit of uber-nationalism and bigotry, and now we're going to stay past 2011, against the wishes of the Canadian people.

  4. The US government has misled and lied to its citizens, and some of them don't seem to mind, and a country that claims to be a force for good has killed nearly a million in Afghanistan, and more than a million in Iraq, in addition to thousands of its own citizens (more Americans have been killed in Iraq than died in 9/11), and the odds are very good that these men and women will never face justice.

  5. Religious freedom continues to be an intellectual idea in the United States, with little support for nonbelievers, and in some places, an assumption that "religious" means "christian".

And there's way more. The list is necessarily short, but other things that annoy me include young earth creationists, IDiots, The Conservative Party of Canada, and especially Stephen Harper and John Baird, peak oil deniers, Hilary and McCain for suggesting short-sighted economic policies and then badmouthing the experts, the entire "democratic" process in the US, the electoral policies of my own nation, the fact that God is in my constitution, that there are only about eight and ahalf million athiests or other nonbelievers in Canada, that there are even fewer (on a per capita basis) in the states, and when other groups steal Green ideas and we don't get credit.

Now, I relish my anger. I live in it. I snort it up my nose, smear it on my skin, and drink deeply of my wrath. My anger is good, it is righteous, and I deserve it. It spurs me to action, and it makes me a better person. This anger does. When I get pissed at my daughter because she won't sleep through the night and I have to get up at 2am to comfort her, that just makes me an asshole.

But my righteous anger, at those who are discriminating against non-believers, at those who would export a "free market" at the point of a gun to justify their plunder, at men who lie constantly and often about evolution, climate change, or gay marriage, that makes me a good man.

Greta Christina agrees with me, and if you haven't read that blog post, I suggest you do now. Or after you're done reading mine. A long laundry list of reasons to be angry (though she's going to have to strike at least one from the list), and then a good argument about righteous anger, and what it has accomplished. It's very good, very compelling, and pretty damned astute.

Today I read the Information Clearing House's article about war crimes being committed by the US, and another wondering what the hell is the matter with the American People, and I thought of Greta Christina's point, that anger is necessary for change.

But the problem with anger is that it cannot be sustained. It's fleeting, and while it may smoulder, that's only enough for resentment, not for action. The anger needs to be accompanied by hope (which Obama has coopted), in order for change to occur. The problem is that we're in waaaaay too much trouble to deal with any one thing. Fix global warming, and we still have a food shortage. Get gay marriage, and atheists are still villified. Get rid of public funding of religious education, and you still have tax exemption for churches (Nobody in Canada ever complains about that, only that Natives don't have to pay some taxes. Oddly enough, we probably have more churches than Tax Exempt Natives...)

Anger is useful, powerful and primal, and it gets people off their asses. But it's short-lived, and it can cause impulsive, reckless and stupid action, as well. It needs to be tempered (pun intended), and it needs something else. It can't sustain action, and for the big problems to be fixed, we need more than flare-ups. We need sustained pressure.

I don't have the answer. I suggest you stay angry. Don't let your anger get away from you. Keep reading alternative news sources. For my atheist friends, especially the ones south of the border, keep on top of the IDiots and the YECs, and the bigoted Congresswomen/men and or Senators, and the televangelists (incidentally, Benny Hinn is Canadian, but you can have him) and all the other assholes who would deny you tour rights. You're gonna need that indignation. You need to keep feeding it.

But nurture your hope, too.

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