Sometime in the mid-1980s, I heard a report on the radio of a road rage incident. I later found out that a friend had been involved. While my friend was stopped at a traffic light, another driver inexplicably attacked him. My friend got out of the car, picked him up, and deposited the attacker in the ditch.
Although it was the first road rage incident I heard reported on the news. It certainly wasn’t the last. Today road rage incidents are common events. And, unlike the one involving my friend, they often involve guns. (It seems there’s a road rage killing weekly in the Phoenix area.)
I believe such incidents are a glaring measure of the anger index in our nation. Likely caused by underlying anger and triggered by stress, it seems many of our citizens are one incident away from going “postal.” (For those of you who are too young to remember, the term originated following a number of workplace shootings in Post Offices around the country.)
Today, much of our anger is politically based. Following the housing crash, those affected were angry at the government for allowing it to happen. Worse yet, they were furious that the federal government bailed out the banks responsible. When a black president then bailed out the auto industry as I believe was necessary, old white men went ballistic. Egged on by Republican strategists who wanted to block any initiatives by President Obama, they created the Tea Party.
Their anger and the anger of those who oppose them has grown ever since.
As the Tea Party types have decried every step of the Obama administration, many have stockpiled food, guns and ammunition preparing for what they consider the inevitable battle against a tyrannical government.
Of course, much of the violence is the result of gang-on-gang turf disputes and the illegal drug industry. But since the Me Party, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh and his equally venomous wannabes have ratcheted up their angry rhetoric, they must take responsibility for creating a rage that’s ready to explode at the slightest provocation.
Guns make that anger even more dangerous. And the most lethal kinds of military-style weapons allow the violence to create more victims.
The only real solution is for everyone to chill out. For the Mean Party to tone down its rhetoric. For the media to stop reporting manufactured controversies and to end the “if it bleeds, it leads” style of journalism. And for the government to treat us all like tantrum-throwing kids by taking away our most dangerous toys.