The Pandemic of Anger is Contagious

Anger overrules rational thought

We have witnessed anger erupt in myriad ways these past few years. From mob conflicts to singular shootings, anger has captured the news. The anger, like a virus with which we are all now faced, is contagious – a pandemic – that infects wherever rational thought is sparse.040620 Anger 1

Anger puts Dr. Fauci at risk

The nation now relies on a few voices of reason that warn us of what we can expect from the spread of COVID-19. Some don’t like the message and blame the messenger. Michael Balsamo and Aamer Madhani of the Associated Press reported on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert. They note:

…concerns about his safety are serious enough that Fauci now has security. The Department of Health and Human Services requested the U.S. Marshals Service authorize special agents from the HHS inspector general’s office as part of Fauci’s protection. … Fauci has been vilified by some conspiracy peddlers on the far right as a part of the anti-Trump deep state. Conservative media commentators like Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and talk show host Rush Limbaugh have viewed Fauci with suspicion.

Science explains our anger

In short, it doesn’t take much to incite anger, to light a fire in the belly of the malcontents to lash out. The anger expressed by the few is confusing. How do these few come to their misperceptions and overreactions?

Anger is, of course, a real phenomenon. All of us get angry from time-to-time. Our overreactions can engender embarrassment when we, at last, come to our senses. But how can disagreement over the science meant to save lives in these pandemic times burst forth into death threats? Why is Dr. Fauci at risk?

Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” reported on psychologist Dolf Zillmann’s findings about anger:

Zillman finds that a universal trigger for anger is the sense of being endangered. Endangerment can be signaled not just by an outright physical threat but also, as is more often the case, by a symbolic threat to self-esteem or dignity: being treated unjustly or rudely, being insulted or demeaned, being frustrated in pursuing and important goal. … Anger builds on anger; the emotional brain heats up. By ten rage, unhampered by reason, easily erupts in violence.

More recently, Karla McLaren, M.Ed., an award-winning author and social science researcher, has written extensively about emotional intelligence and provides the following on her website regarding anger:

Anger arises to address challenges to what you value: your standpoint, your position, your interpersonal boundaries, or your self-image. … we tend to identify anger only after it gets to a very obvious or intense level. Since most of us were never taught how to take effective actions with our anger, this intense anger can often be acted out in very painful ways.

Anger is contagious

As we now consider the dangers the COVID-19 pandemic bestows upon all of us, we must also consider the contagion of anger that can spread among us. Rumors and conspiracy theories rubbing together are like two dry sticks used to start a fire. Mayhem erupts. Lives are threatened and lost.

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I passed a billboard recently that simply said: Were All In This Together! I’ve seen other signs, too, that express the same sentiment. You may have witnessed the same kind of reactions. They’re reassuring, comforting, and meant to draw us together as they remind us that we are not only in the same predicament but that we need each other. Let’s include everyone and not lose any of us!

EVV is an inclusive voting approach: All voters matter!

Without meaning to minimize the chant of, “Black lives matter!” we’re reminded that, truly, all lives matter! We cannot afford to let anger have its way and cause us to threaten or harm one another. We’re in this together!

The need to be inclusive is at the core of Equal Voice Voting (EVV). While presidential voting is yet a few months away, there is a warning we must consider: almost half of the votes cast will not be represented in the Electoral College. The Electoral College is not at fault! The malady is because Winner-Takes-All (WTA) is used, state-by-state, disenfranchising so many.

Is it anger that suppresses voters and votes alike? Is it ignorance? Or is political greed and fear to blame? It’s a mix of all of these as they act like viruses infused into our governance, affecting leaders and common citizens alike.

Unlike COVID-19, however, WTA is easily removed if we want it to be. If we want to be inclusive in our voting, we must let the people’s voting voices be heard. Also, unlike COVID-19, we know how WTA works, what the remedy is, and what results we can expect if EVV takes its place: a strong correlation between the popular vote and Electoral Vote results. We know, with EVV, all voters matter!

Now is not the time to let anger or ignorance or fear or greed have their way. Now is the time for logic and maturity and empathy. As William Falk, Editor-in-Chief of The Week explains:

Human beings can be awfully stupid, selfish, and shortsighted. But at our best, we are magnificent!

As many signs remind us: “We’re all in this together!”

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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