Frivolous Outrage

Credit: LaDawna Howard
Credit: LaDawna Howard

I only have so much outrage to rage with. No matter how much my hero/martyr-complex kicks in, I can’t carry every flag.

What I believe is important isn’t necessarily what someone else will believe is important. Our life experiences do a lot more to shape our belief systems than we like to think.

There are some issues that most of us can agree are important. Issues that deserve our energy. Issues that should cause outrage.

And then there are issues that probably don’t deserve our energy.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched wave after wave of social media outrage over one ridiculous thing after another. What gets a person fired up says a lot about them.

You know what getting outraged over some little thing (when there are so many issues out there that are more deserving of your attention) says? That you have a pretty damn easy life.

If you didn’t have such an easy life, you’d have a better understanding of what actually deserves your ire.

Like food insecure and starving children in your community. Yes, your community. Just because you haven’t met them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Like systemic racism.

Like the way women are objectified and devalued.

Like the way men are taught to adhere to a narrow view of masculinity.

Like the way gender and sexual minorities are discriminated against.

Like the way our society punishes poverty.

Or the many other worthwhile causes out there that could have a positive impact on our society.

But, no, you go ahead and spend your energy getting all irate about some tiny, little thing you’ll easily forget by next week. Because that’s the important issue here.

But these inconsequential things do seem like important issues to people who’ve never had to face actual struggles head-on. This is where I use the P word.

Privilege.

If you have the energy to latch onto some here-today-gone-tomorrow bullshit, then congratulations on your awesome, largely-trouble-free life. People who are out there dealing with actual problems can’t go around getting all worked up about every little thing that crosses their path. Because their energy goes to, you know, dealing with actual problems. Maybe they’re busy figuring out where their kid’s next meal is going to come from. Maybe they’re caring for a dying relative. Maybe they’re moving their garbage bag of belongings from one homeless shelter to another. Maybe they’re busy filing for bankruptcy because of their outrageous medical bills.

Maybe, instead of getting outraged over every single distasteful thing you run across, you could stop for a minute and express some gratitude for having such a great life that those little irritations even register. Because, let me tell you, when you’ve got a severed limb, you ain’t gonna notice a mosquito bite.

And, for the Christians out there, this is absolutely an issue for us. When we’re out there raging about that pesky mosquito while people are suffering and dying around us, what sort of witness is that?

I get it. Sometimes things rub us the wrong way and we just want to vent about it. That’s cool. Just be aware of how you come across when you do that, and make sure you also pay plenty of attention to real issues as well if you’re going to devote time to mosquito swatting.

Be thankful you’re in such good shape you can notice that little bite, and then think about helping the person with the severed leg instead of bitching about how itchy you are.

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