Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If you ARE outraged, you're not paying enough attention

Have you seen this bumper sticker before?

Not only do they get it wrong, they get it completely and utterly wrong. Let's look at the definition of outrage:

Definition of OUTRAGE

: an act of violence or brutality
a : injury, insult  outrages on silly women or poor passengers — Shakespeare>b : an act that violates accepted standards of behavior or taste  outrage alike against decency and dignity — John Buchan>
: the anger and resentment aroused by injury or insult
Even assuming they mean definition 3, it's just plain wrong. Resentment? That's never a healthy emotion. There seems to be a popular sense that the only way to make a positive change is to have a fiercely negative emotion driving it.

I've written before about why that's just not true. Here I want to add that the assumption that it is true is probably the cause of many of the problems than the sticker is trying to get us to pay attention to.

Solutions that are arrived at from a place of resentment are inferior to those that come from a desire to improve the world. A true desire to improve the world, not the half-assed kind we kid ourselves into thinking we have when it suits us.

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