Outrage Fatigue – We Can Handle It

George S LedyardA great article by Ariana Huffington on outrage fatigue titled How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World

Really worth reading and its points are quite valid. But it did get me thinking about the issue of outrage fatigue. I asked myself, aren’t we stronger than that?

This is a war. It is a political war, but it is also a culture war. As much as we find Trump repulsive, it is a fact that the GOP as a political party is backing him 100%. We cannot separate Trump from the Tea Party hi-jacked GOP itself. Every time they vote to support a Trump nominee, every time they overlook the conflicts of interest, every time they allow him to not release his tax returns, when they overlook the outrageous way he is conducting what could only generously be described as foreign policy. they are “enablers”. They must take equal responsibility for this atrocious man.
But we are also forced to admit that not a one of these people would be in office… not the President, not the Senators and Congressmen, none of them, without having been voted into office. It is simply the case that a really significant section of the American public has a very different vision of America that is in many ways diametrically opposed to the Liberal / Progressive vision. In other words, this is a fight that has existed since the start of our country and continues to this day.  It isn’t going away. It will still be going on long after Donald Trump is disgraced and leaves office.
Organized LaborSo, I find myself thinking about outrage fatigue and the issue of “staying power”. I think about the battle that the Labor Unions fought for decade upon decade in the face of black balling, assassination, strike breaking, state sanctioned violence… Most of us are currently facing nothing like that.
The women warriors who fought for suffrage faced social ridicule, isolation, arrest and imprisonment had to sustain that effort for years and years. For many it was a life long battle. Most of us are not even close to putting ourselves on the line to that extent.
Women's rights, suffragettesThe Civil Rights Movement literally lasted generations. It accelerated after WWII and seemed to peak in the 1960s with the successful fight to end segregation. The movement activists faced beatings, even death at the hands of the reactionaries. People were lynched, shot, simply disappeared. Marchers were fire hosed, had the dogs turned on them, were attacked by the white crowds. This happened over and over for years. Are we as Liberal / Progressive citizens facing anything like that … Yet?
What I am saying here is that if we are in this for the long run, it is certainly true that we need to pave ourselves. We also need to perform concrete actions along with being outraged to give that energy an outlet. All true. But at the same time, when I look at our nation’s history of activism and resistance, at what a monumental effort it has taken to get where we are, the sacrifices made by the culture warriors who have fought the battle to make this country a better place for all, I think that holding onto to my outrage is a small price to pay.
Are we not strong enough to sit with our outrage every day? Are we REALLY allowing ourselves to be “fatigued” after a few months of the political wars? I think we should think about the strength required to sustain this battle until we can turn this country around. The folks who went before us faced far greater challenges. The folks out there at Standing Rock, the Black Lives Matter protesters, the Occupy movement folks, the environmental activists,  all the other fighters on the front lines are  really putting themselves out there for all of us. I think maybe the least we can do is maintain our outrage and not shy away from it.
If it is too much for some, I understand that. You do what you can. But I think that the vast majority of us are strong enough to hold that outrage, to wake up every day and feel it, to express it publicly, loud and strong. Because that is what is required to not allow what is happening to be “normalized”. I think this is how we honor the generations of labor leaders, women’s rights activists, civil rights fighters, and so on who have gone before us. We have to maintain and feed the outrage. It is the motive energy that feeds concrete action. It is required to get marchers on the streets, not just once but over and over.  It is what is required to get us writing our Congressional leaders, not just on one issue, but continuously until they can’t ignore us. It is what is required to produce record turnout at the mid-term elections rather than the dismal 50% of the Presidential election that is typical.
Seattle Women's marchSo, don’t do yourselves harm. Take care of yourselves. But if you can hold your outrage, if you can feed it, communicate it, keep it steady, then by all means do so. I think we can be tough enough to do that at least. The war is going to demand much more from some. A few will find themselves out in front for the rest of us. It has always been thus. But we can stay strong and outraged at a minimum, acting in the various ways that we each find for ourselves. Personally, I think my outrage is making me stronger. As my wife, who was a nation champion fencer used to say to herself when competing, “Be tired later.”