Friday, November 13, 2015

Outrageous outrage

The amount of outrage being expressed in today's world is outrageous. It depreciates the value of outrage and makes it easier for true outrages to escape our attention.

First, two definitions: 

Outrage: extreme anger: a strong feeling of unhappiness because of something bad, hurtful, or morally wrong.

Extreme: very great in degree.

It's one thing to express "outrage" over something important. Such as, for example, police shootings of unarmed black people. Or Bush's invasion of Iraq without a clue or care as to what would happen if Saddam Hussein were toppled. Or politicians' lies or evasions about undeniable facts. 

But do expressions of "outrage" over the design of Starbucks' coffee cup deserve "extreme anger"? No. 

Obsessing about the design of a coffee cup shows extreme infantility, not "a strong feeling of unhappiness because of something bad, hurtful or morally wrong." Years ago, a common saying was "Keep Christ in Christmas." The point was that Christians should focus on the religious significance of Jesus's birth and not obsess over the material trappings of the season, particularly "Christmas shopping." A recent editorial in the Racine Journal Times had this to say: "If you’ve got time to rant on Facebook about the design of a cup which was going in a trash can or recycling bin regardless, you’ve got time to 'go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor' (Mark 10:21) or 'visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction' (James 1:27)."

The outrage factor is also prevalent in politics. I receive unsolicited political emails. They are obviously designed to stimulate support for or opposition to a particular candidate or issue. Far too many pronounce this or that action as "outrageous." Undoubtedly, this trend is made more prevalent by the need for evoking an emotional, rather than an intellectual, response, which is the very purpose of almost all "social media" communications.

Bah, humbug.

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