In the wake of the GOP’s recent transfer of public funds to the already wealthy, the slashing of public lands in Utah, ongoing support from the highest offices of our country for a known pedophile and sex offender, and on and on and on, I am outraged.
I am horrified and fucking angry at the failure of our politicians to serve their constituents. I am incensed by their blatant lying and backroom dealings. I am saddened by the many who will likely die because of these decisions and for the millions of others whose lives will be worse, whose possibility and opportunity will be diminished.
The problem is: outrage doesn’t help.
It is natural, perhaps even inevitable for those of who care about peace, justice, and preserving the Earth. It is part of caring deeply about something. It is completely acceptable, nothing to be ashamed of.
But it isn’t helpful.
Personally, over the last few weeks I’ve felt lethargic, immobilized, in despair. I feel there is nothing I can do to fight this. I find myself lost envisioning future months and years where my neighbors fall deeper into poverty and the lands around me are defiled. I imagine conversations I might have with Trump supporters that put them in their place. I question whether my work with Kindling is pointless and naive.
In short, I haven’t done much of anything that will actually help. And that’s the point. Outrage doesn’t help.
It doesn’t make anyone’s lives better. It doesn’t counteract the horrors we are seeing. It doesn’t make change more likely.
In fact, it actively makes change less likely. It causes us to hate and lash out. It brings our focus to what we despise rather than what we love and long for. It saps our energy. It breeds despair and hopelessness. It works against our ability to create change.
This is outrage fatigue. It is perhaps our biggest foe in the fight for change.
Because there will be more tax bills in the future, more sex offenders in power, more devastation of our conservation lands. There will be an endless supply of things to be rightfully outraged by. And we won’t be able to do anything meaningful if we are drunk on outrage.
And so part of my change work is in fighting outrage fatigue, transmuting outrage – that which boils our blood to the point of disgust and frenzy – into profound concern – a deeply felt conviction that the current state of affairs is dangerous and wholly unnecessary, something we can and will change.
If I am able to transmute outrage into profound concern, I will lose no sense of urgency. I will be no less compassionate for those who stand to suffer from these changes. I will be no less determined to create change.
I will simply not let myself by hindered by the chaos of despair. I will let the light of possibility guide me.