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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Reflecting on an Angry America

                “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.” That’s a famous line from an episode of the TV series “Lost,” in which the character Jack Shephard tries to rally his fellow plane-crash survivors to start getting along with each other instead of starting a civil war on the island on which they’re stranded. The people of the United States could take those words to heart as well in light of the violence and vengeance that have dominated headlines in recent weeks.

For too long, loud and powerful forces in this country have been labeling each other and stripping each other of the dignity and respect due to all human beings. And often, these voices are enabled by a media establishment that thrives on anger and conflict which produces high ratings which produces lots of money.

People on the left demonize “the one percent” or pro-lifers or conservatives in general. People on the right demonize gun control advocates or immigration reform advocates or liberals in general. The problem with demonization is that we think of demons as hellish, evil creatures that need to be crushed and eliminated. We don’t see them as fellow citizens who believe differently than we do. So instead of arguing passionately about issues—and perhaps acknowledging that the other side has some valid points of view—we give in to our instincts to destroy each other. To quote Yoda’s famous line from “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Hate certainly led to suffering in Dallas on July 7, 2016, when 11 police officers were shot by a sniper, and five of them died from their wounds. The incident occurred after a rally protesting the controversial deaths of two African-American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, at the hands of white police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. Ironically, the protest rally was peaceful and even friendly between cops and demonstrators. Then, a gunman who simply wanted to kill any white police officers for vengeance started his murder spree. 

Our anger is destroying us partially because we “label” entire groups of people. That’s not to say that injustice and racism don’t need to be rooted out. They do. But the truth is that all police officers aren’t racists and all black people aren’t criminals. Painting with those kinds of broad strokes will just lead us further down a very dark hole. So here we are in this sharply divided, increasingly angry America: “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”

Maybe the first step toward genuine progress is to look at ourselves and start saying the Prayer of St. Francis every day. It was adopted as the Prayer of The Christophers when Father James Keller founded us in 1945, and its message of personal responsibility holds true eternally: 

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, TEACH YOURSELF TO THINK MORE CLEARLY, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org