Outraged? Not So Much

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal

Last week I read a blog entry on a Web site I like. This person was telling readers that we should be “outraged” by a certain news story. Her stance was how people need to do something about it and keep this kind of situation from occurring again. Her passion was compelling, but after reading the post I felt only one thing—exhaustion.

If I used energy to be traumatized by every cause worthy of my attention I wouldn’t be able to function. I couldn’t work or eat or sleep, and relationships of any kind would be out of the question.

I’ve been reading accounts of the travelers caught in last week’s ongoing cancellations of American Airlines flights. One man described his wife’s experience of two days in the Dallas airport and subsequent meandering flights around the country as “60 hours of hell.”

This was not only amusing but also a little sad. We Americans can be so full of ourselves. I’m not the only one who can think of countless other situations that might be considered worse than spending a few days in an airport designed for my comfort.

I think some people are outraged simply because outrage about anything, is contagious. We’ve seen it in road rage, politics and schoolyard fights. If someone decides to bring it, there will be plenty of others to urge him or her on and join in the fray.

I not only don’t have the stamina for this, I’m confused by it. Why would anyone choose to debate, kvetch or whine about something for which they are not truly passionate? Is confrontation really that much fun?

Every so often my teenaged son gets in my face concerning something I see as petty. He, on the other hand, is 14-years-old and by definition, a walking hormone. However, this is what I tell him: “Save your true rebellion for something that really matters. Don’t waste it on the small stuff.”

I don’t know exactly where I learned this, but I believe it’s true and he seems to get it.

Now, I am nothing if not aware of the trend in our culture to exhibit provocative tendencies. So, in an effort to keep pace with impassioned citizens everywhere, here are a few things I’ve decided to be angry about:

I’m absolutely furious that Vanilla Ice is back in the news. As a rapper wannabe, Ice had his 15 minutes of fame. He needs to step off. Besides, I’m pretty sure I speak for the American public when I ask, who cares?

I’m outraged that the Ferndale Rite Aid’s bargain day is only on Tuesdays. What about the other days? Aren’t they just as good as Tuesday? Why can’t we get 10% off all items every time we shop there? Huh?

I’m incensed that Silvio Berlusconi has clinched his third term as Italy’s prime minister. What’s the matter with the Italian population? Why would any country elect a media mogul into office? Don’t make me come over there!

OK. That’s it.

For me, real outrage is reserved only for those places I am willing to expend that precious energy. And right now, I’m hard pressed to come up with any. But I know they exist.

Wait, I thought of one. Try taking away my York Peppermint Patties and I’ll show you some blind rage.

See, I knew it was in there somewhere.

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