Why We Must Honor Our Anger And Outrage

Apathy is the enemy of all just causes —

If allowed, apathy will kill the righteous passions and indignation engendered by the enormity and depth of the social injustices codified currently in state and federal laws or those planning to be implemented which will fall upon all our lives and hit the hardest those among us who are most vulnerable. We have a clear and present duty to honor and constructively focus the anger and outrage we feel towards individuals and institutions who would and will continue to promulgate these injustices behind legislation.

We must be clear, decisive, focused, relentless and nonviolent in achieving our goal of protecting and preserving democracy for all Americans. We must be willing to get out on that limb emotionally or we risk losing our drive toward positive change. We must try to place ourselves in others’ shoes.

Our capacity for empathy is one of the of the most valuable characteristics human beings possess which allows us to settle and coexist in a civilized manner. It’s true we are part of the animal kingdom but without our capacity for empathy we would clearly be more animal than human and this would not bode well for any of us.

During the Women’s March On Washington we witnessed an ingenious method of grassroots activism made necessary by circumstances and a tight budget. On a makeshift stage a few organizers set themselves up and communicated with large crowds of people by using US and our voices as the sound system. One woman stood on the stage and shouted this while hundreds loudly repeated after her:

“Mic check! Mic check! Amplify my voice! Amplify my voice! Everything twice! Everything twice! Women’s rights are human rights! Women’s rights are human rights! (or whatever the message was to passed along).”

Here’s ‘My Mic check! Mic check!’ For Today:

“I will not accept social injustice and I will not squash my outrage toward blatant acts of tyranny and violations of human rights in order that others may stay comfortably numb in their denial and apathy!”
“I will not accept social injustice and I will not squash my outrage toward blatant acts of tyranny and violations of human rights in order that others may stay comfortably numb in their denial and apathy!”

I’ve heard well meaning people advise all sorts of ways to manage our feelings of outrage towards those people and institutions who would seek to further impoverish and oppress us. Catchy phrases like: “What you resist, persists” and “Acceptance is the answer” are meant to help us cope. However, do not mistake these idioms for a pass to sit on the sidelines because they are not meant to be. Neither can we spend our energies commiserating in misery and angst with one another without taking constructive action also.

We must not lose or deny our righteous anger, we must channel it into concrete activism which involves personally taking some sort of action, however small you feel it may seem.

It’s so very easy to get overwhelmed and feel hopeless. I’ve been there and I’ve personally witnessed well meaning compassionate people throw their hands up or over their ears in surrender to the enormity and dire nature of our political and social situation in the United States.

But I feel compelled to remind myself and all of us, the problems we are facing here in the United States will have a global impact if not resolved in a way that preserves human rights and dignity. To dust off a vintage environmental protection slogan, it’s up to us to Think globally, But Act Locally.

Recently, I wrote a letter to my 4th District State Representative @RepWesterman expressing a few of my concerns and I did this as I rode the charter bus returning to Arkansas from the Women’s March on Washington. I checked the box stating that I wished to have a direct response from him regarding the concerns I’d voiced.

I’ve only received an automated reply, thus far, but this morning I received in my email box a copy of his monthly newsletter. Scanning it I found no mention whatsoever of the women’s march or that constituents from his state and his own district travelled to Washington to participate in the historic event.

In his newsletter @RepWesterman has a section titled: “Happening in Washington”. There, Westerman makes no mention of the historic event which took place on January 21, 2017, IN Washington D.C.! Hellooooo??? Anyone with half a brain could see why a Republican District Representative would “black out” details about such a historic event from communications with his Arkansas constituency when the president himself called the Superintendent of the National Park Service to ask why NPS employees were tweeting images showing the gross disparity between the crowds at the Trump inauguration and the crowds at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration (though I doubt he used the word “disparity”), and then proceeded to order the Twitter account access shut down for the Department of Interior account and employees.

You bet I’m angry and I’m going to hold onto that anger because I am really sick and tired of being soft-pedaled and shined-on by elected officials who say they represent ALL the people in their districts when, in fact, they represent themselves or a biased few. They say they are listening, but when they hear from a constituent who holds views, opinions and concerns which contradict their own agenda they simply ignore them!

It would be understandably easy to grow apathetic and eventually allow our public elected officials and civil servants to get away with ignoring and denying the truth, as well as, flat out refusing to hear our concerns when they believe we are in the minority of their particular district. However, I am committed to resisting apathy and remaining engaged, even if I have to go sit on RepWesterman’s doorstep and demand the response he’s promised me.

S Lynn Knight, 2017