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Angry America

We Need More Light, Less Heat

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Eric Metaxas

As Christmas Day approaches, it appears that many of us are acting more like Ebenezer Scrooge than Tiny Tim.

According to a new USA Today study, the share of Americans who report feeling angry or irritable has surged from 50 percent just two years ago to 60 percent today. A Harvard Medical School study from 2012 found that nearly two-thirds of American teens admit to having anger attacks involving the destruction of property, threats of violence, or engaging in violence.

“Some are describing this as ‘America’s anger epidemic,’ ” says one New York news website. It cites unemployment, the economy, and for those who have work, overworking, as contributing factors.

The signs of our nation’s irritability are all around us. Think of the political rancor, the everyday nastiness of the online world, the mall and workplace shooters, and even the so-called “knockout game,” where youths prey on unsuspecting pedestrians in urban areas, trying to knock them Daily_Commentary_12_10_13down with a single punch.

But we’re not only angry. We’re also afraid . . . of one another.

“For four decades,” reports the Associated Press, “a gut-level ingredient of democracy—trust in the other fellow—has been quietly draining away. These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972.”

The AP concludes, “Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say ‘you can’t be too careful’ in dealing with people.”

This worrisome trend calls to mind Francis Fukuyama’s thought-provoking book, “Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity.” Fukuyama pointed out that only those nations with high levels of social trust can thrive economically in today’s globalized world. It stands to reason, then, that increasing anger and decreasing trust do not bode well for the country’s future.

And of course that’s just on the economic side of the ledger. What about the moral side? How are we to regain earlier levels of civility, peace, and other forms of social capital?

It might go without saying that Christians should be salt and light in an age of anger and distrust. But I’ll say it anyway! At a minimum this means that, though we must stand up unapologetically for the truth—on vital issues such as religious liberty, marriage, and the sanctity of human life—we do so, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

As Pope Francis said recently, we need a “revolution of tenderness.”

While Christians have not always reflected our Savior as clearly as we should in these areas, when we have, we truly have been “the light of the world.”

As our old friend Chuck Colson frequently said, yes, we must impact culture, but we must do it winsomely and in ways that build trust. “The Christian church,” he said, “makes a Great Proposal, inviting everyone to the table, regardless of color, ethnic origin, background, or economic status. We’re inviting people to consider a worldview that works . . . through which people can discover shalom and human flourishing.”

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And that’s exactly right. We Christians do not impose our views on anyone. Rather, we propose—we hold out a better way of life, the great proposal, an invitation to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Our angry and distrustful neighbors don’t need to be yelled at. They need to be won over, not defeated. They need to be invited to the feast. Let’s remember this truth as we prepare our own Christmas feasting. Then perhaps we may even be privileged one day to hear some of them say, “God bless us, every one.”

Further Reading and Information

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Angry America: We Need More Light, Less Heat - Next Steps

We can best reflect the love of Christ in thought, word, and deed by engaging in what Pope Francis called "a revolution of tenderness." Think before speaking or acting. Our words and deeds make a difference. Make them count for good, not evil.





Resources:

America's anger epidemic: why?
Dan Bowen | myfoxny.com | November 21, 2013

Pope Francis a phenomenon by preaching gospel of love
Kathryn Jean Lopez | New York Post | November 30, 2013

Anger Attacks Rampant Among U.S. Teens
Katy Moisse | ABC News | July 3, 2012

Apostolic Exhortation
Pope Francis, 2013


Comments:

Pattern recognition, even with imperfect patterns.
Somehow I knew as soon as I posted that someone would say "Well, sometimes it's not against white people." Patterns in nature, human nature included, are rarely perfect, but occasional deviations should not stop you from recognizing overall patterns. The fact that it CAN be against non whites doesn't change that it's MOSTLY against whites. If the inverse was happening you better believe the liberal media would be beating the hate crimes drum like it owed them money.

"How it breaks down in terms of percentages is not disclosed."

And that right there should tell you all you need to know. Why isn't the media tracking those numbers. I would be surprised if non whites made up even 10% of the victims. I would be shocked if it was over 15%.

-The Bechtloff
-landsharkattacks.blogspot.com
One more thing
I would add that the first resource listed on this page (America's anger epidemic: why?) contains a link (http://www.myfoxny.com/story/24197865/knockout-game-at-rikers-island) to an article about the knockout game on Rikers Island (a New York City jail), which says that the main targets there are female officers. On the same page is a video, which shows that a rookie corrections officer given a black eye and a fractured eye socket by such an attack was black. See for yourself.
A knockout or a decision?
Am I the only reader of this page who checked out what The Bechtloff has said about the knockout game? Well, I asked my old friend, Google, and he referred me to the Wikipedia (The World's Expert on Everything, after all) article on the game. It seems that many times this so-called game (really a crime) is in fact a black-on-white hate crime, but not always. It begins, "The "knockout game" is one of many names given to assaults in which, purportedly, one or more assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim, often with a single sucker punch, all for the amusement of the attackers and their accomplices. Other names given to assaults of this type include "knockout", "knockout king", "point 'em out, knock 'em out", "bomb", and "polar-bearing" or "polar-bear hunting" (when the victim is chosen for being white)." The latter comment implies that the victim is not always chosen because (s)he is white.

If you read on, you find that the "game" can be anti-white, anti-semitic, anti-female, or anti-senior. In some cases, presumably, the victim really is chosen randomly. How it breaks down in terms of percentages is not disclosed.

And if that's not good enough, there are 60 references at the end of the article!
The knockout game.
Eric,

You said "and even the so-called “knockout game,” where youths prey on unsuspecting pedestrians in urban areas, trying to knock them down with a single punch."

I realize that this is a bit tangential to your main point, but why bring up "the knockout game" if you're going to gloss over what it actually is? You make it sound as if it was as simple as some feral "urban" youth attacking random people. It is about beating up WHITE people. I realize that it might be an uncomfortable truth to face, and you're likely afraid of being accused of racism or being told to "check your privilege" or some such liberal nonsense, but you did bring it up. And if you are gonna bring it up then you shouldn't perpetuate liberal myths about it.

It's this sort of thing that is the reason the liberals have owned you conservatives in the past several decades, you hold your punches, mince words, and gloss over ugly truths like this.

-The Bechtloff
-landsharkattacks.blogspot.com
Scriptures
Mo,

I suspect the psalm you were reading was either 26 (see verse 5), 94 (verse 16), or 119 (verse 115). Also, Ephesians 4:26 seems particularly relevant.
Mo, with the phrasing of your first sentence, I think you've put your finger on the problem Eric is trying to address. There are often reasons to be angry. There are never reasons to be nasty. It's all about treating others with respect and expressing our feelings appropriately, even -- or especially -- when the stakes are high.

We're in this to win souls, not to win fights.
There's quite a difference between being angry and nasty to people for no reason, and being angry and speaking out (even forcefully) about things like the damage being done to our country by this corrupt administration, the racial and class warfare being encouraged by this same administration, the erosion of our liberties and rights, the relentless push for normalizing homosexuality, etc.

What I've seen is that Christians seem to equate the two. Not only will they never speak up about such things, but then they chastise those of us who do. Now, if people wish to be silent, that's their business. But to complain at others when they do so and call them "mean" is something else.

I forget which Psalm I was reading the other day, but I was struck by how much anger David had for 'evildoers' - and calling them that! And he not only spoke against evil and for righteousness, but he was a king and had the authority to act as well.

How can we stand against evil when we don't feel any anger about it?

By church and individual Christians' standards today, David would be considered "mean" and "angry", would he not? So would Paul.

And so would Jesus.