I’m trying to figure out what should happen next, assuming this year’s demagogue goes down in flames. How does America prevent flare-ups of anger and hatred every time there’s an election? How do we teach people that Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean that all speech is equally valid or worthwhile?
How do we refute anti-intellectualism?
Can we teach people to recognize when they have enough instead of worrying about people who have more or how much they might have, “if only…” Can we remind people that life isn’t fair, but that compared to residents of the third world, even the most put-upon Americans still have an unfair advantage, not disadvantage?
Can we teach people to choose happiness over unhappiness?
There’s a fair amount of irony in my asking this; I myself am rarely content. But I usually am unhappy with myself, not others. I am less likely to sit on my laurels than to look for the next problem before someone else finds it and tries to make it mine.
Here’s why I open up myself this way: I don’t try to change others unless it’s to get them to honor commitments, either explicit or implicit. I may try to support changing societies, to promote justice and progress, but if I try to change others, it’s usually by example, not edict.
So, how do we get angry Americans to defuse their anger and direct the energy in a positive way? Is there anyone who they would listen to who can say, “I understand your anger, but you need to change your goals”? Will their pastors tell them, that isn’t what Jesus would do? Would they accept that or seek a false prophet to validate their anger and greed?
This isn’t an easy nut to crack. The forces of anti-intellectualism lead them to reject anyone whose message they disagree with. They still see that they are only in the 49th percentile nationally, not that they’re in the 85th percentile globally. They want to believe they can have better; they want to believe, not just that hard work is rewarded, but that with hard work, all things are possible. They want a better life than their parents; they want a better life still for their kids. They don’t want to compare their lives with fifth cousins in the old country; they want to keep up with the Joneses.
How do you convince someone to be happy? How do you defuse anger?
I have more questions than answers, but at least recognizing the questions is a start.