Roger Marolt: The futility of raging against the machine as a cog that can turn inside it
I’m tired of being enraged. It’s exhausting. It’s stressful. It’s something that drains me, but doesn’t help me sleep. It probably causes wrinkles and gray hairs. I have experienced pimple outbreaks for the first time in decades. I blame the thickening layer of belly fat I lately notice on it, too.
I am traversing switchbacks over Sanity Pass down into a rabbit hole so deep that I threaten to become enraged about enragement. I am a rebel with so many causes that laziness is the only practical way to deal with them. I am fear in the headlights. When I spread out my collection of convictions, piss and moans are the only things I can spread thin enough to cover them all.
Worst of all, it is addicting. It starts simply as one minor indignation and morphs into a treasure hunt for all things that might be bothersome that I can remake into incidents of urgency, convincing myself that there is actually something I can do about them and that vehement bitching is the same thing as taking action.
Initially, this new habit of expressing rage at every opportunity gets attention and people are interested when I start ranting, but it quickly leads them out on their own tangents of rage. And although we are together and talking loudly, neither is listening and really we are only talking to ourselves out loud using the appearance of a conversation to hide the fact that we are co-dependently sidestepping our ways into insanity.
There’s politics, coronavirus, schools reopening, online learning, masks, conspiracy theories, forest fires, hurricanes, droughts, protests, riots, unwatchable debates, the rise of the Proud Boys, the fall of the Boy Scouts, the removal of statues, sports played in bubbles, the economy, Supreme Court justices, global warming, racism, nuclear arms threats out of North Korea, trade war threats with China, rogue cops, second-homeowners taking over, unemployment, the stock market, the cost of ski passes, indoor dining, Qanon, ANTIFA, WTF and politics. And politics. And politics.
I remind myself several times a day lately of the futility in harboring this load of angst. I urge myself to resist indulging it. I try to load up on the vitamin Cs of compassion, courtesy and caring. And, yet, where is the vaccine against it? I hear of nothing being developed so far. I’m not sure it would do any good even if they came up with one in the next few weeks. It appears that maybe our country may not want to be inoculated against rage; it might now be our national pastime. It seems we are a country that, when we reached the crossroads of love and hate, instead of making a decision about which route to take we merged the paths into one crooked, four-lane interstate highway and raised the speed limit to 85. The sad truth is that we love to hate!
I am now at a precarious point in this. I must feel the preponderance of my vote added to others’ toward initiating change. It is important. At the same time, I must tap humility in recognizing that my single vote in the sea of hundreds of millions is but a feather settling softly on the gargantuan weight that change demands. I am left to make sense of this paradox and find peace in the journey.
In the end, I think it comes down to this: my voice of complaint, no matter how loudly I yell, no matter how well-reasoned and convincing my arguments sound to me, no matter how many posts on social media I make in all capital letters with exclamation points, no matter how many arguments I think I can win on Facebook, all count less than my one tiny vote because the profusion of all these noises ends up in that incomprehensible cacophony of opinions that is so numbingly painful on the human ear that nobody listens, everyone resists and no change occurs.
When I vote, however, I am making real change, however small. I have taken action that nobody can negate by ignoring. I have exercised a right of freedom, which is a powerful reminder that no mater what anyone says or does they cannot silence me. In voting, I set a hopeful example, an action that nobody can fault me for. If others see that I believe voting matters it is easier for them to believe that their vote counts, too. In these things, one minuscule vote becomes one of the biggest things we can do.
Roger Marolt knows that one snowflake cannot make a powder day, yet every big storm starts with one. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.