Friday, December 27, 2013

Why all the anger?

      I'm going to write about anger because as our 4-year-old grandson says about the television remote at his house, "I am an expert at it."
      Anger has been part of my life for as long of the 66 years as I can remember. That's no secret; my family, friends, co-workers, some of the rest of the world know that. It's no great honor.
      It's been destructive, devastating, embarrassing, caused me more trouble than I ever could have imagined. Sometimes I used it as motivation, but that was rare.
      Who can explain it? What spurs the thought process, or lack of thought? Hours and hours of counseling, weeks, months of self-examination -- self-loathing -- provided some insight, and maybe age and retirement from work have eased some of the triggers.
      One of my goals the past couple of years has been to ease my anger, and I'm making progress.
      This is particularly so when it pertains to athletics -- my impatience (and sometimes downright fury) with the teams, players and coaches I favor. But even more importantly, much more importantly, I'm not as angry with my family, the people I love.
      I have someone who will vouch for this. She has been my biggest fan, and my biggest critic, for 37 years, and no one can push my anger trigger more quickly or more frequently. That works the other way, too; I can trigger her anger.
      But she's the one who has told me -- repeatedly -- that the world, and issues, are not black and white; there is much gray area, and much room to compromise. It's too much to expect perfection from family ... and from teams and players ... from people.
      (Just so you know: She is proofreading/editing this piece. I am publishing it because she approves the message.)
      So why am I writing this now, why this confessional? Because I am distressed at the negativity, the criticism, the downright anger I see in my world. I see it on TV, I hear it in public, and moreso I see it on Facebook. It leaves me feeling sad.
      Which is why I enjoyed Wednesday, Christmas Day, because Facebook was nothing but positive. And still I couldn't escape.
      I was out on my daily walk, going through a nearly empty section of the University Village Shopping Center parking lot, except for one car. I noticed a young girl, a teenager, slowly walking away and then plopping down on a nearby grassy area ... and she was crying.
      Closeby, where the car was parked, a couple was arguing loudly. I didn't come too close. But in a minute, I saw the man walking toward the girl, yelling, and then I heard her screaming at him. Brought back some unpleasant memories.
      And I walked away from there in tears. It made me think -- again -- about anger. My anger. The world's anger. Writing about it, expressing my feelings.
      I have been among the "haters" in sports -- the arch-rivals of my teams, the players/coaches I despised on those teams, and other sports figures/issues I hated. Now, in my new "maturity" (go ahead and laugh), I see how pointless it is. What a waste of time and energy.
      Look, I'm not going to root for Alabama, Ole Miss, the Red Sox, Orioles, Redskins, Eagles, Giants, Heat or Lakers, the German soccer team. I only really root for my teams. And there are athletes I don't approve of. But I'm just not into "hating" anymore.
      On Facebook, I have seen in the past couple of months more "hate" toward the Dallas Cowboys and, say, Alabama than I care to see. Just this week, there was a sarcastic Christmas greeting for Tony Romo (concerning his back injury) and Jerry Jones that I thought was distasteful.
      I get very frustrated with Romo, and his tendency to screw up in big moments, and I repeatedly have bashed Jerry Jones' ownership -- and more, his general managership. But hate? No, no.
      I feel sorry for the Cowboys' players and for the fans because of Jerry's foolish statements and personnel moves and because the coaches, apparently, are always one Jerry thought away from being fired. As if changing coaches or coordinators, time and again, makes a difference for this team.
      But I don't like the anger I see directed at the Cowboys on Facebook. Saints fans don't have to be jealous anymore.
      Sure I want to see my teams win ... every year. Feels good when it happens. But it's just athletics. In the grand scheme, it's not that important.
      In the real world, I see Facebook posts that are angry about personal setbacks -- job losses, bad breaks, illness, poor service at restaurants, illness/sickness -- and I think most are ill-placed, people just venting or looking for sympathy. Prayer requests for serious physical problems, personal or family, yes, that's  understandable. But people just (pardon the harsh word) bitching ... don't need it.
      It bothers me more, and I have written this before, to see the criticism of the President, of the new health care law, of Congress, of politics in general. Criticism is often valid, but what I see is rancor, spite, meanness.
      My wife reminds me this is nothing new; it was directed -- in full fury -- at the previous two Presidents who served two terms apiece.
      So many people are just so angry. The personal attacks, the belittling posts, are so frequent.
Phil Robertson: He's made a lot of people
angry, whether he meant to or not.
(photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
     What are these posts trying to prove? That there's a difference of opinion? That there's a stalemate out there? That there is ineptness? Heck, we know all that.
      Now, that brings me to this recent controversy: Phil Robertson's views on homosexuality and, to a lesser extent, race, and the A&E network suspending him from Duck Dynasty.
       As I wrote in my previous blog, I find it all stupid and sad. So are the many, many, many Facebook posts I've seen.
      Agree or disagree, we all have the right to our opinion. But no question -- Phil has made so many people angry with his expressed views, and so many people are angry about the actions of A&E, Crackel Barrel, the LGBT groups, etc.
      Anger everywhere. And, well, some of what I see I consider bigotry.
      My opinion: Phil is a public figure, so there is going to be a strong reaction. This comes with celebrity.
      I don't believe this anger is what Phil intended. I hope not. But so be it. And Facebook, unfortunately in my view, is one venue where that anger can be expressed.
      People don't have to like the comments or the suspension. But the Robertsons aren't going broke; the show isn't folding, nor is the network. So why are people so upset?
      I could "unfriend" people from Facebook -- I've done it, but not often -- or I could drop Facebook altogether. But I like a lot of what I see, and I prefer to keep friends, and add some.
      What I choose to do is not be angry, try to be accepting of all viewpoints, try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
      I do have my opinions, and my prejudices ... and I still, unfortunately, have my moments of anger. But I'm trying every day to understand myself and understand my world, and be as non-judgemental and patient and accepting -- and not hateful -- as I can.
      I try to deal with only what I can control. The rest of it? Let it go.


  1. From Jim Teague: I enjoyed your blog on anger. I believe we gain wisdom, tolerance, and patience as we get older. Unless of course you are a (Houston) Texans fan.

  2. From Cindy Baswell: Very good blog. I too deal with anger issues. One day at a time. I am never going to be anger-free; the Lord gave anger along with joy and other emotions. I just need to manage them all better. Good writing.

  3. From Andy Sharp: Much common sense in this post, Nico. Anger can swallow us. I too work on mine each day.

  4. From Skip Young: How wonderfully written, as I would expect such an excellent journalist to do -- and summed up sufficiently in the last sentence. Thank you.

  5. From Kirby Ramsey: Anger expressed in the news and in our everyday lives does seem to be increasing. Maybe it is just our ability to hear about it in the news media and social networking. When I was young I do not remember mass shootings and coaches and celebrities going ballistic. Violence and anger is a major part of the local and world news. I would like to think that the future world will be a better and kinder place to live for our children and grandchildren.

  6. From Betty Cagle Walker: Well said, Nico. I'm sick of the hate mongers and negativity. It is useless, counterproductive and mean. Anger is such an unhealthy action. I hurt myself more than anything else when I let my anger take over my life.

  7. From Lynn Chance: Nico, it would be easy to say "misery loves company." I too have had anger problems and have the same feelings that you so honestly described. I find that my greatest anger is against myself for not being as "perfect" as I think I should be and then I let it spill over onto those I love the most. We all need to look at this most volatile of emotions. Thanks for being honest, but most of all I thank you for leading me to look at and evaluate my anger.

  8. From Roger S. Braniff Sr.: We have a 92-year-old mentor in our Bible study class who often says that "Anger is like acid -- it does more harm to the vessel it is contained in than what it is poured out on."

  9. From Tim Looney: Another good one, Nico! I think we should all work on controlling our anger. I do think, however, that sometimes what we consider anger is really just frustration over things we can't control.

  10. From Teri Spinks Netterville: Wow. Thank you for this, Nico. Powerful, powerful piece! Your words will, no doubt, make people think.... and think hard. I truly believe some hearts will be forever changed because of what you have written. Amazing honesty.

  11. From Dr. Robert Haley: Wish all could read your anger blog as it contains some powerful messages. If you keep writing at this depth, we may make a journalist out of you.

  12. From Tommy Canterbury: Good one, Nico. We all got something a bit off-center. Difference of opinions are fun; often hate/anger is not. Easier said than done. ... Serenity Prayer! It helps me.

  13. From Mike Richey: Man, this column really pissed me off! Not really. Not a criticism. More of a witticism. But it made me think. Anger isn't a bad thing. Like anything, it depends on the dosage. It can help keep my blood pressure down. Getting things off my chest can be good for my heart. It's all in controlling the beast. Too many people keep their anger bottled inside which leads to explosive anger.
    Hate, though, is a very bad thing. I use the word often when talking about the Gators, inept politicians and going to WalMart just before Christmas. But I don't really hate any of those. I say I hate politicians that never see a gray area. But I really just strongly dislike their views.
    Strange isn't it that as a society we take massive amounts of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and prescription relaxants, yet we still can't get along.
    This much I know. Bea, as is most often the case, is right on the money. And don't you just hate that?