Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
The plea: step aside for a few moments and carefully think it over. There may be a lot more at stake for you than you think…
I have said it many times during this U.S. election season: in all of the years I have been eligible to vote (45), I have never seen such a level of raw rage.
Today, January 19th, the day before the inauguration of a new President, I believe we are at a particularly vulnerable place. I hope calm heads and sufficient security around the scheduled events prevail, and I pray to that end.
The cauldron of negative emotion has boiled up to a point where people are overtly threatening their opponents, apparently not caring about breaking laws and putting lives in danger. To many of us, it seems some of their “protests” are more akin to terrorism*.
Meanwhile many people on both sides of the aisle shake their heads in disbelief.
Even if they may agree with some of the issues involved, it is still clear that there is far more acrimony and hatred afoot than has been seen in this nation some would argue since the Civil War.
The hatred goes far, far beyond any kind of righteous anger.
One possible reason might be the relatively unfettered and instant access to social media where it is easy to gin up such rage via eye-catching and emotion-grabbing memes and seven second sound bytes that many think adequately address what they do regard as righteous anger over what they oppose. And indeed, our nation has been many times blessed when good people have expressed–and worked–righteous anger to good ends, as good as it can get given the temptation to corruption when one, or a group, assumes power.
The eradication of slavery by the newly formed Republican Party, is one example, though, because evil is intent on destruction, it took a terrible war against the opposition to overcome. The successful fight against the exploitation of workers, including women and children, headed by the Democrat Party, is another example, this one continuing even as worker exploitation continues if unchecked.
But just now it seems there is an unprecedented element of sheer evil present.
Like many, I have given a lot of thought and prayer to this.
We will in one way or another get past the current turmoil, but at what cost?
And how did we come to this point in time?
Whereas I am not a political analyst nor a history expert, although as a college instructor I have taught certain elements of both subjects, I have had occasion to do a serious study of the nature of anger and its relationship to destruction that has inspired me to stay the course of as much wisdom as I can glean as I go forward in my own life given the inherent flawed nature of mankind.
For it’s one thing to know or believe that something is wrong or right, but it’s another thing to know how to best address it to facilitate the most beneficial outcome.
Here are my thoughts on today’s situation in an effort to contribute one more voice in support of a continuation of the tradition in this nation of a peaceful transference of power.
Having had occasion to engage in a study of how destruction works, it become clearer and clearer that there is a process that begins with anger (justified or not justified) that, lacking temperance to proceed wisely to resolutions, can quickly lead to rage (particularly if a mob comprised only of like-thinkers gins up pressure to conform so that rage takes precedence over resolutions).
This can easily lead to cognitive dissonance (the attempt to resolve the angst over holding two opposing positions in one’s mind at the same time) which, if blocked by the intensity of rage, quickly deteriorates to truncated analysis rather than inspiring critical thinking.
At some point in this digression into mental calamity, wisdom is in danger of being left on the wayside.
The voices of calm and reason are soon out-shouted then shut out as shock and awe tactics to persuade and/or dissuade the opposition intensify and human beings get closer and closer to the edge of chaos.
Anarchy is not far behind.
During the period of time in which critical thinking has become clouded, if not overpowered, anarchy may even surface as a cause in and of itself–which then becomes a tool of those who know how to use it to wrest the kind of control they desire.
The Scriptures have much to say about the need to deal with anger, as in the kind that leads to rage, before it degrades to personal and world chaos.
Common sense also reveals that once a person or a group is mob ruled into a state of rage there is a certain blindness that results which feeds the above-mentioned anarchy.
Ordinary, law-abiding citizens can easily succumb under the sway of this kind of rage even if they have intellectual understanding of its ability to control them. Many studies reveal that such rule and control over humans, peer pressure on steroids you might call it, is particularly effective on young people,** which is why they are sought after by control mongers.
And then it becomes easier and easier for people to be persuaded into all-or-nothing thinking, a divisive “them and us” mentality, as a way to assuage the pain of cognitive dissonance.
Yet, there is still time to change minds, if not hearts.
- A reminder of the rule of law (kept in careful check) that continues to ensure our rights, for one thing, may help some. Let’s hope the outgoing administration emphasizes and reinforces this. Today would be good.
- The presence of those we hire to physically protect us might help others who are this very day considering “protesting” by committing vandalism and physical assault, if not worse.
- A moment or two of reflection on how rage can overpower reason and the fact that there are plenty of power-mongers who want blind followers to perhaps go in directions the followers may not, in more rational moments, really desire to go, might help still more people.
- And several more moments reflecting on this question might benefit yet more: What is the end goal of rage, anarchy, and the dissolution of a governance system that allows such free expression and the right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances“?
My years’ long study of the Scriptures on the topic of such evil boils down to: the end game of evil is evil. In a word: destruction.
So, fellow citizens of a nation where so much blood, sweat, and tears have been sacrificed in the effort to maintain our level of freedom, I ask where to from here, on this pivotal day in our history?
Will we keep the experiment in self governance going, working out our problems as peacefully as we can? Maintaining vigilance as best we can?
Or will we dissolve into lawlessness and anarchy, thus making ourselves vulnerable to those who may not want us to have the kinds of freedoms we enjoy? Do we want to take that chance?
If you are of a mind to participate in the illegal and violent protests (as opposed to the lawful, nonviolent kind) and are yourself even wondering at the level of political vitriol ginned up in this election season, please, give these things careful thought. You may believe or have been led to believe that by so acting you are thwarting the winds of a change you do not want, but by so doing you might find that a whirlwind of far more serious consequences awaits.
For my part, I will pray that wisdom–and effective security systems– prevail, and I hope many others will pray, as well.
*Note: if this video has been scrubbed, one can easily find many other sources by searching for the topic using key terms such as “plans to stop the inauguration” “plots to stop the inauguration,” “DisruptJ20,” and so on.
**An Internet search for “power of peer pressure” (both good and bad) reveals innumerable entries including many scholarly treatments of this phenomenon, particularly in the field of education which is my area of expertise.