Unbridled Anger – 6 Reasons Violence has Escalated in America

One of the great testimonies to the character of our nation has been the peaceful transition of power every time a new president is elected. We do not select a leader based on who has the strongest army (as least not in a physical sense), nor do we use physical force to accomplish the transition. Political candidates have always sought to influence voters by rational means, encouraging them to employ principled reasoning to make their choices.

This year’s presidential race has made it obvious that things are changing. Violence has become a far too common element at campaign stops all across America. Disagreements offered from a hostile perspective and delivered with anger encourage bitterness and division, leaving little room for sane reasoning.

Why is violence so common in our society? Many in today’s world begin each day with an uncertainty about their safety. Adults, teens and children are all at risk. No longer does an individual have the freedom to expect that living in America, a country which has historically demonstrated a commitment to embracing the concept of law as both ruler and protector, will provide for them a haven of safety. Gradually, as respect for authority has waned, violence has increased.  “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has devolved into “existence, endurance, and the pursuit of survival.”

Perhaps a better question to ask would be: “why has violence, for so many, become an acceptable means of dealing with problems?” It is not unusual for individuals to retaliate with violence even for minor personal offenses. Most of the media attention is directed toward events which end with deadly violence, but the vast majority of incidents never escalate to that point. Physical fights, assaults, and attacks on personal property are just a few of the ways that violence can manifest itself without being deadly, all because individuals are convinced that it is an acceptable way to settle their differences. But why do they think that way?

  • People feel that they can no longer trust the appointed authorities to keep them safe. Corruption in government institutions has poisoned our faith in them. If justice is to prevail, citizens feel that they must take it upon themselves to provide it.
  • The media has employed violence to boost their ratings. Insults, anger, and violence have become programing essentials whether reporting the news or broadcasting their brand of “entertainment.”
  • Reality TV has made violence appear common and acceptable. For many, the line between fiction and reality has all but disappeared. We have become nothing more than “nosey voyeurs” eagerly anticipating the next event in the life of our favorite “normal” human participant.
  • Society has become exceedingly selfish and abusively intolerant. Calls for tolerance have little impact when promoters are using the request as a means to support their own intolerance.
  • Respect for truth, morality, civility, humility and dignity has been publicly abandoned.
  • People have dismissed the need to control their anger. Anger is the fuel upon which violence feeds. Without anger violence does not occur.

The prophet Jonah from the Old Testament had an anger problem. His hatred for the people of the Assyrian city of Niniveh was so great that he initially refused to go and preach the gospel to them, even though God had given him a clear command to do so.

Chapter 4 of the book of Jonah is an account of a conversation God had with Jonah about his anger problem. In that dialogue Jonah revealed the bitterness that he felt over two things: 1) The redemption of the people of Niniveh (whom he hated), and 2) The destruction of a gourd (which provided his protection from the heat). In both instances Jonah’s anger was the result of ugly, selfish desires going unfulfilled.

It’s not difficult to understand. Children get angry when they don’t get their way. Selfish adults respond with anger as well, and when their anger reaches its threshold of tolerance, violence ensues. No wonder scripture says that “anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Angry people have been around since the beginning of time. But those who employed violence to vindicate their anger were usually scorned. Now they are commended. Meanwhile people get hurt, division intensifies, life becomes less predictable, and our country grows weaker.

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