My mother taught me that if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.
That’s great advice for interpersonal communications. It’s lousy advice if you have a lighthearted weekly newspaper column, and your thoughts are full of doom and gloom.
I know where my place in the column-o-sphere is since I started writing weekly at The Lima News nearly a decade ago: I provide lighthearted tales of raising kids and family life. Sometimes I’ll share stories about interesting people I’ve met. Occasionally I’ll give you an insider’s view into the inner workings of the newspaper.
Usually it’s done with a little humor and a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. I’m not feeling particularly funny or clever these days. What I am feeling is anger.
I’m angry about the COVID-19 response. I’m angry about race relations. I’m angry about what economic conditions are doing to news-gathering. I’m angry about how people treat each other on social media. I’m angry that people don’t read entire stories before making up their minds. I’m angry that people don’t consider alternative points of view. I’m angry the kids won’t unload the dishwasher.
I suspect that’s the angriest paragraph I’ve ever written.
Since my little place in your lives isn’t supposed to be an angry place, it’s a little difficult to put any thoughts to paper this week.
I don’t know what it accomplishes to just say you’re mad about something. I’ve always thought it’s more beneficial to come up with a solution to what’s making you angry. I wish more people would take a deep breath and come up with a solution instead of throwing their own anger around so much. Frankly, that makes me angry too.
I’m trying to take a deep breath and process the anger. I’m trying to work through each of these things that frustrate me so much and think about what I can do to make it better.
I’m not talking about grandiose “wouldn’t society be better if” kind of solutions. I’m trying to figure out how I, personally, sitting here with the time and resources I have, can solve problems. I have a sheet of paper hanging near my desk to remind me: “Name it. Claim it. Tame it.”
I hope I can use that process to calm my anger. In the coming months, I hope you’ll engage with me by email, phone or social media about what you and I can do to fix what’s making us angry. What can we do individually to fix what we see wrong in the world? What unique ideas can help us see eye-to-eye better, without imposing our wills on other individuals?
Anger alone won’t solve anything. Anger tempered by a coherent plan can change the world.