I’ve always aimed to be kind and gentle, but I’ve caught myself lately going full snark. It usually happens in the privacy of my home in response to something some political hack said on the morning news.
I believe there’s something about politics that seals off a portion of the brain. I’ve seen otherwise rational human beings say the silliest things when in the throes of political frenzy.
I’ve observed in the past that politics is the art of scaring people into giving their freedom away. H.L. Mencken said it best with a statement I’ve quoted frequently:
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
That’s still true, of course, but in recent years it seems the whole idea is to make people angry. Either they’re shouting and screaming their hate at the other side, or they’re saying something so ridiculous that the only appropriate response is to call BS and get mad.
Anger dominates the airwaves, and it’s so easy to get caught up in it.
An easy solution would be to just turn off the TV and disengage from antisocial media, but the problem with that is people will still be saying stupid, hateful things and making people fearful and/or angry.
A better solution is, when you’re getting alarmed or angry, ask yourself why this practical politician or other player wants you to be scared and angry — what does this person have to gain with all this alarming rhetoric, and how are you being hurt by buying into it?
A key clause in Mencken’s statement is “(and hence clamorous to be led to safety)” — the practical politician wants you to hand over the keys to your life and let someone under his/her control do the thinking for you. And that, of course, reduces your options, your rights, your freedom.
Refuse to be afraid. Fear scrambles your brain. Refuse to get angry. Anger messes with your brain even more. Calm down and live free.