My Anger, and Perhaps Ours

I haven’t written for some time, partly because of other commitments but mostly because I’ve been at a loss for what to say. Others, professional pundits, have beaten me to the punch as the cascade of outrages continue to pour out of the White House. But I have become slowly aware of the toll that anger and outrage has taken on me. I realize that I’m not alone in this situation, but I am speaking now only about myself. Others are free to agree and identify, or not.

Anger, I have come realize late in life, can be debilitating even as we (the editorial we here) indulge ourselves by expressing it. As we carry it, it erodes us from within, wears us down and exhausts us.

So, I am now seeking ways to put my anger down. That is what I am seeking to do. What I am not seeking to do is to accept the unacceptable—the pettiness, the meanness, the selfishness, the lack of civility and generosity, and the pursuit of narrow self-interest that ultimately carries the seeds of its own self-destruction.

I think we can resist without being angry. I aspire to be determined in my opposition, determination being a better frame of mind than anger.

Beyond that, if I feel anything for the current occupant of the Oval Office, it’s pity. I wonder how exhausting it must be for him to carry so much insecurity and anger himself. I wonder how it must be to imagine himself surrounded by enemies scheming to do him harm, to deny his lusts, his desire for power without any idea of how he might use it to further the common good. I believe he demonstrates serious mental issues and perhaps early symptoms of dementia.

Nancy Pelosi says she prays for him every day. I would if I believed in the efficacy of prayer, but I don’t.

The larger issue is not Trump’s lack of compassion, but perhaps our own. Trump is only a symptom of our malaise and unhappiness. If we are a divided nation—and obviously we are—how is it that the most successful, affluent and comfortable of us (and I’m not speaking here of the one percent but rather the rest of us that fit that description) can’t communicate with the 40 percent who cheer Trump? Their cheering him on may be an expression of admiration for him, but for many of them it is also an expression of contempt for us.

We have to ask ourselves how we can bridge that chasm that separates us. The vast majority aren’t “deplorables” or yahoos. They have grievances. They feel disaffected, disoriented, left behind. Great changes are occurring—socially, economically, technologically and spiritually. We all can appreciate how it is to have basic touchstones of our daily lives disappear with no satisfactory substitute.

Trump, of course, feeds on those grievances, exacerbates them. What we need is a leader who will reach out with compassion without condescending or patronizing. Unfortunately, we may not have someone with those qualities among the presidential wannabes.

Leadership alone will not solve the problem. Americans need to get to know each other. At times in our past America had organizations where diverse elements of society were thrown into close contact with each other. One obvious example is the military. Then, largely because the better educated, more affluent and privileged among us no longer saw an obligation to serve because we were involved in an unpopular war, the draft was abolished. Henceforth, America would be defended by volunteers only.

And now we have an army, navy, air force and marine enlisted men and women drawn disproportionately if not largely from poor, rural areas and the less advantaged parts of our cities. They are thanked by us with hollow professions of “Thank you for your service.”

Abolishing the draft has unleashed a multitude of sins, but the one I am addressing now is putting the burden of national service on a very narrow slice of our population. I believe it is another sign, symptom and cause of our division. Sooner or later, better sooner, we need to confront that division.


  1. Sacha on December 8, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    I sent mom an gift of Lindy West’s new book: THE WITCHES ARE COMING. You may appreciate West’s chapter entitled, “Anger is a Weapon”—if only as a worthwhile and equally well-written counterpoint to your piece.

    – <3 S.

    • William J Roscetti on December 10, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      Beautifully written, Larry and I have also wondered how Trump,with all the collusion, impeachment,ect,etc, pressures attacking him effect his most important duty of POTUS. When the smoke clears maybe we will learn the truth.wp9

  2. Peter Sherman on December 9, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Worth waiting for, especially the thought provoking point about abolishing the draft— kind of a forgotten huge development. I favour a military draft only as one option of universal national service required for all.

  3. Susan Friedman on December 9, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Right on, Lar!

  4. Nessa on December 9, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    All so true. The hard part is not seeing a way forward in this current state of affairs. Is there hope somewhere out there?

  5. Joni cherbo on December 10, 2019 at 3:20 am

    The immediate, urgent need to save our democracy and start to make this Nation work for all its people is how best to defeat Trump. I would like to hear some strategic methods for winning the electoral college in the few states that are going to make the difference from Democratic hopefuls to grass roots volunteers.

  6. Barry Sussman on December 11, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Good ideas here. I especially like when you write, “Their cheering him on may be an expression of admiration for him, but for many of them it is also an expression of contempt for us.” I think that explains so much until now, and is important to keep in mind going forward.

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