Are your emotions manipulated by politicians? More than half of Americans angry at the state of the country
It’s official. The national mood in the United States has turned sour with a recent poll showing that more than half of Americans are angry with the state of the country. After seeing it unfold on the news or at the dinner table, many say it’s time to end the rage and heal the wounds.
From fights in the air to angry outbursts at school board meetings, outrage has become the new normal.
“There’s no end of provocations that play a part in this,” said Peter Wood, author of Anger: enraged America.
On CBN’s The Global Lane, Wood blamed pandemic restrictions and other issues for the rising anger.
“The arrival of large numbers of people at our Mexican border; the retreat of ships off the west coast and east coast attempting to deliver goods here; the unleashing of inflation in the mainstream economy each of these elements brought the temperament of mainstream Americans to a boil,” Wood explained.
The statistics on disputes over mask mandates for airline passengers tell the story.
The FAA reported 5,981 cases of unruly passengers last year — a big jump from the 146 complaints filed by flight crews in 2019.
Differing political views are often the engine of anger.
According to Betsy Sinclair, professor of political science at Washington University in Saint Louis, the problem has been building for 30 years.
“If you ask people how angry you feel at the opposing party or how often you feel angry at the opposing party, we find that 70% of Americans report huge volumes of anger,” said Sinclair to CBN News.
In one academic document on the subject, Sinclair points directly to politicians of both parties and how they use mistrust and anger to their advantage.
“Candidates and campaigns have manipulated the emotion of anger to engender loyalty,” Sinclair said. “So often we say a local voter is an angry voter. But anger motivates people to take political action. It motivates people to vote.”
Sinclair added that unbridled anger can threaten democracy, which relies on healthy social interactions between people who disagree.
“What we find in our research paper is really the case that anger is so harmful for things like are you going to water your neighbors’ plants when they’re on vacation,” Sinclair said. “It hurts people and it hurts neighborhoods and it hurts families.”
Scott Broetzman, president of Customer Care Management and Consulting, has studied consumer anger for nearly two decades.
“You just can’t say this is my consumer world and this is my political world, this is my family world. They all blend together at this point,” Broetzman told CBN News.
As grocery stores and other businesses face supply chain and staffing shortages, Broetzman said disgruntled customers have taken out their frustration on essential workers.
“You’re in a store or you work in a contact center and you’re going to hear from 60, 70 people a day, 30, 40 of them really angry,” Broetzman explained. “They treat you like garbage. They don’t respect your dignity. What must it be like to show up at work every day and know that’s what you’re going to face?”
John Cooper of Christian rock band Skillet says that while believers should uphold biblical values, it’s vital to show grace to those who disagree with our beliefs.
“The grace should be that we Christians are willing to tell the truth but don’t treat our enemies the way they treat us,” Cooper recently told Faith Vs. Culture of Faithwire. “What we want is for these people to know this amazing Lord that we know.”
In his book, Habits of Unity: 12 Months Towards a Stronger America… One Citizen at a TimeElaine Parke provides key anger management tools.
“You can be in a space with someone whose opinions on a certain topic are entirely different from yours,” Parke said. “Move the conversation. Say I respect your opinion.”
As an antidote, Sinclair suggests civic engagement. She recently created an app called Magnify your voice encourages neutral partisan engagement in local communities.
“There are so many things we can do that go beyond our partisanship to take care of our basic humanity, and I think that’s what matters most,” Sinclair said. “People are going to disagree about their politics, but they’re going to care about each other as a community. And we have to do both things.”
Meanwhile, Parke believes spreading positivity can spark a unitary revolution to help America heal.
“Unity is not going to trickle out, we must trickle unity from our own, from the humility of our own hearts and souls and be humble when we look into another person’s eyes no matter what. she thinks,” Parke said.
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