Monday, June 1, 2009

“Enmity vs. Good People”
by John Alexander Madison
June 1, 2009

What is going on in the world today? As Andy Rooney might say ‘Did you ever notice that everybody is mad these days? Nobody seems happy. Feelings of hostility, hatred, ill will, animosity and antagonism are everywhere.’

Moments ago a car went speeding past and you observed “What an idiot. He’s going to cause an accident.” Then, all of a sudden just ahead of you there is a serious accident. Immediately, you and others rush to the scene to offer help. But wait, before you do wouldn’t you want to know which candidate the crash victims voted for in last November’s election or perhaps whether those lying helplessly among the twisted wreckage are in this country illegally? Or perhaps you said to yourself ‘he was talking on his cell phone’ or ‘she was putting on her makeup, how stupid, they deserved it.’ Then again, maybe you didn’t think that.

After all, don’t we all have, in the very least, an ounce of compassion deep within us which puts all our prejudices aside and tells us to run out there and see what we can do to help? Surely you would call 9-1-1. Wouldn’t you? One would hope so. In that instant all other thoughts are put aside by your instinct to do the right thing.

So why are people so angry today? In the April 21, 2000 edition of WebMD Health News Jeannie Lerche Davis wrote “There’s nothing wrong with anger, in appropriate situations and in limited amounts, experts say. But chronic anger not only affects our relationships with others, it can harm our bodies, leading to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.”

Today, based on that evidence alone I hereby swear off any future feelings of anger except, of course, ‘in appropriate situations and in limited amounts.’ It seems that Ms. Davis is saying we are killing ourselves. Through our anger we are causing harm to our bodies which leads to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.

In today’s high tech world, we are bombarded by instant news from around the world. Every hour on the hour we hear breaking news about a bus driving off a cliff in Chile; a doctor being murdered in a Kansas church; your state legislature imposing a new fee…a/k/a another hidden tax; or, heaven forbid, the U.S. government nationalizing another free-market economy industry. The fact that the citizens of the United States may soon own over 60% of General Motors stock is good news is it not? But wait, isn’t that company nearly bankrupt? Some investment! Well, you may be delighted with that news while others will be ANGRY!

A loss of a job may make one angry. Skyrocketing health insurance will certainly anger many folks. Or the above mentioned careless driver will anger some as well. And differences of opinion seem to enrage others, more often than is should. Differing opinions on a business plan, or the type of flowers and wines selected for a wedding reception, or who gets to control the television remote, or the disastrous 2008-09 Colorado Avalanche season, or the off-season trade of Jay Cutler, or worse, differing opinions as to how the government should be run…yes politics…makes people’s blood boil…it makes them angry. Thinking back to Ms. Davis’ remarks about anger, Mr. Rooney might observe ‘Having a heart attack after one’s blood boils seems to be a logical consequence. My advice to you is to chill out.’

Do you remember the Los Angeles riots and the oft repeated words of the other Mr. King about getting along? On May 1, 1992, the third day of the L.A. riots, Rodney King appeared in public before television news cameras to appeal for calm, stating: “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?...It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice…Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.”

One delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention, after observing delegates attending both political party conventions in Denver and St. Paul, noted that he ‘saw many good Americans…some below the poverty level, some middle class, and many wealthy Americans...Americans from all walks of life. They care about their country and are participating in the democratic process because they want to make a difference.’ Regarding the presidential candidates he went on to say that the number of houses one has or whether one was ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth or raised in poverty’ does not matter. ‘What really matters,’ he continued ‘is how they have lived their lives. What really matters are the core values of each candidate. What REALLY matters is that every eligible U.S. citizen should study the issues and candidates and, thereafter, vote on November 4th! American is a nation of immigrants- whose diverse backgrounds help make this the greatest nation on Earth. Why? Because we are all Americans first!’

I liked that. By pointing out that we are a nation of immigrants it is clear that we are different in many ways. But what should bind us together, what “really matters” is that we are Americans first. As American citizens, we are granted and guaranteed certain freedoms, among them being life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

There are a lot of good people out there. Let’s concentrate on them. Let’s help diffuse some of the anger which invades our daily lives like an incurable cancer. While we often see things with a different perspective than our neighbors there comes a point in time when all that doesn’t really matter. Sure, we all get angry occasionally, frustrated when things are not going our way, or upset that others “just don’t get it.” G-r-r-r.

But remember, the opposite of enmity is good-will. So here’s a suggestion at least for this week: Try having a friendly disposition; try being benevolent and kind; try practicing cheerful acquiescence or consent. It sure can’t harm our bodies and lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. If anything, I‘ll even bet that it will make you feel better.

Perhaps we should take the advice of Bobby McFerrin who wrote and sang back in September 1988 “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” It is a choice that you have. Make it your choice!

If Andy Rooney won’t say it, I will: Give it a rest…at least for the rest of this week. I’m tired of your wining and your anger.

And if you can’t, eat a piece of chocolate. That will put a smile on your face.

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