The Kansas City Star today carried a front page story about anger. (http://www.kansascity.com/637/story/1395915.html) The story was primarily about health care reform, but the article suggested that Americans are just angry in general. In fact, we have always been angry about something. America was born out of anger toward the British Crown.
This came home to me again when I was in Europe recently, and I was reminded that not every place in the world is as angry as the US. I noticed it most when we were in England, but it is also apparent in the Scandinavian countries as well as other places. There is a peacefulness among people that doesn’t exist here. For reasons that I don’t understand, Americans are just always angry at something.
This shows up in our high crime rate, our high levels of incarceration, in entertainment, and even in the high cost of health care. We have more attorneys than anywhere else in the world because we are much more likely to want to sue somebody.
As we were riding the subway late one night in London, I realized that I would not get on public transportation after midnight in any US city. In London everybody was friendly and having a good time after a pleasant night on the town. The lack of fear and anger was startling compared to any similar situation in just about any US city.
Some people argue that Jesus showed anger when He turned over the money changers tables in the temple, but a close reading will show that that was a planned protest and not an angry outburst. And even that was the closest thing to anger or violence that Jesus showed. (Matthew 21:12)
I think it comes down to contentment. Our constitution guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Pursuing happiness as an ideal almost guarantees that we will never be happy. Lack of contentment, never being happy with our circumstances, breeds anger and resentment. Anger and resentment show up in all sorts of ways from the highest murder rate in the industrialized world to perpetually low ratings for our politicians.
I don’t see any solution short of divine intervention, but being aware of the problem and committing to personally make our little bit of the world a little less angry will certainly go a long way.