Friday, February 19, 2010

The Anarchy of Anger: Joseph Stack blew HIS stack, burned down his house with his wife and child in it. He then took a plane and crashed it into a Houston building which housed the IRS, an emblem of government. This is a political statement to be sure. What is the statement he was trying to make? His note wafts in anger sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left in its fury. He is angry about his tax disputes which, by his perception, cost him thousands. He is angry at alleged “taxation without representation.” He is angry at the loss of his 401K and he is angry at the intractability of the health care industry and the stagnation of political debate. He is angry at insurance companies and the banks walking home with pockets stuffed full of bonuses gleaned from taxpayer money allowed seemingly by an uncaring and inscrutable Congress.

While there is an irrational anger in Mr. Stack’s unforgivable actions to be sure, his thoughts written in his note are not emblematic of madness. I think his political statement is reflective of the anger in the country as a whole. It comes, as his note reflects, from the left and it comes from the right. The so called Tea Bag Party movement is a hodgepodge of fury coming from, seemingly, everywhere. Progressive anger and intractability, too, keeps the Congress paralyzed as do Blue Dog Democrats who seemingly do not give an inch. What is it all about? Who are these angry groups? For that matter who WAS Mr. Stack? No one can really be sure because anger often knows no logical expression. Even Mr. Stack admitted his note of suicidal and homicidal justification was rambling. The depth of his anger, though, was crystal clear.

It is sometimes understandable to be angry even furious at moments of seemingly senseless irrational political reality. History has seen this many times. Leaders rise and they fall. Empires hundreds of years standing supposedly invincible succumb to events beyond anyone’s control. Countries live and countries die. The reasons for their death are innumerable and often disputative. Hopes rise and hopes fall with each successive regime and leadership. If one takes a panoramic view of the historicity of events it leaves one, I think, dumbfounded and unable to understand why we cannot all just get along. One fact, I think, is clear. It is very easier to be red hot angry than it is to govern a country – especially one of over 300 million – and make it work (a fact a relative of mine made me think about when I got angry at events.) Perhaps, Mr. Stack should have tried to do just that before the anarchy of his anger took innocent life, a home and a building down with him.

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