“WHAT IS WRONG with the people of this country? Why are they so angry? Why are they so mean? Americans routinely condemn the violence in the Middle East and refer to the people there as barbarians. Then a disgruntled former Roanoke TV reporter kills two innocent people for no sane reason and wounds another on live television. Worse yet, he films the entire scenario and puts it on the Internet for the world to see. This ranks right up there with ISIS beheading prisoners and filming the horrific act. The only difference is the weapon used. Again, I ask: Why are Americans so angry? If the Roanoke shooting was an isolated incident it might be easier to comprehend, but it is only the latest in a long series of violent killings that make no sense whatsoever.”
Read the rest of Donnie Johnston’s column at the Free Lance-Star
Donnie Johnston’s musings are part of my morning ritual of having a big mug of tea while reading my local paper. I enjoy reading about how his garden is doing and how the local critters are fairing. I share his childlike joy of eating warm, garden fresh tomatoes. The old Culpeper farm boy’s columns often venture into opinions about local and regional happenings. Judging by letters to the editor, Donnie manages to piss off plenty of people. Well, at least he got them thinking and writing to the editor.
Today Donnie hit it out of the park with his essay on angry Americans. I heartedly recommend reading the rest of his column. He’s wrong on one thing, though. He says, “Americans seem to hate one another to a degree unprecedented in the rest of the world.” I guess he hasn’t traveled much. But he makes a good point. A lot of angry Americans have it pretty damned good. Most of us don’t have to sleep under a bridge, scrounge for scraps in a dumpster or hide from those who want to kill us… literally kill us. Like Richard Sale’s little fish, we may live quite modestly and have unrequited dreams, but our lot in life isn’t that bad. That doesn’t mean we should live as if we are in a Rousseau like peaceable kingdom. We all know people who just piss us off or do things we just can’t stomach. But how about a little self control in our firm and reasoned opposition? I first remember seeing signs and bumper stickers saying “obnoxious in victory, bitter in defeat” when I was in high school. Is that kind of behavior something to be aspired to or should it be seen as shamefully boorish and worthy only of a spoiled brat? I firmly believe that should not be the American way.
In fifth grade, we were required to memorize a work of poetry that appealed to us and recite it to the class. I chose “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I’m glad I did. I wish more Americans would read, memorize and study this poem. More importantly, I wish more Americans would live by those words. We would all be better for it.