Monday, October 08, 2007

What's causing the rage?

This morning I sat with a cup of tea and watched CNN for a while.

A man in Wisconsin, a 20-year-old Sheriff's deputy, apparently went over to his former girlfriend's house and blew away 6 people.

This kind of thing seems inexplicable.

And it's also increasing in frequency. According to various reports, violent crime has increased all over the world.

Most of us have probably felt rage. I can't imagine anyone living in this world and not feeling it on occasion. I have a temper and it is something I continually work on, knowing the reasons so that I can avoid being triggered and learning more effective ways to deal with anger. These days when I get that angry, I take a walk. A long walk. A fast walk. The physical activity clears my head.

The only real "rage" I can recall was probably 20 years ago or more. It was red hot and firey. I couldn't see color. I thought my head would explode.

But then it was over. It came and went in a matter of seconds. I can only recall one event where homicide seemed like a viable option and that wasn't based on rage. It was based on fear. It's a long and ugly story and not one intended for blogs. Suffice it to say I was being stalked and the person staling me was psychotic. There didn't seem to be another way out. Yet obviously there was an alternative .. and I took it. I left the situation and moved 2000 miles away.

It's curious to me where the line gets crossed, when someone no longer sees any other solution to a problem than to kill.

I have my theories as to why there is more rage now than in times past. One day I will write about that.

I'd be curious to hear yours though. Why do you think there is so much rage now?


Snoskred said...

Gavin De Becker's "The Gift Of Fear" talks quite a bit about how these things happen. It's worth a read, if you can find it at your library.

Interesting that you should post this - I wasn't feeling well today and I decided to have a nap because I got up really early. I had a dream while I was asleep that I killed someone who has been an unpleasant person in the life of someone in my family.

There have been times I have felt that rage, but something stopped me from acting on it - I had too much to lose. It is when someone feels like they have nothing to lose that they act.


jen said...

An increasing desensitization to the suffering of others. The propagation of a "me" driven society, and the ever broadening divide of rich and poor.

So many people are in pain.

mitzh said...

People seems to care less, these days. They see only themselves and what is important to them.

And they see life, but they never seem to really see it.

It so sad, how one can waste it and end it just like that.

Caren said...

I think it is a mixture of life experiences, outside influences and an imbalance of brain chemicals that cause a person to go into a state of rage.

Angela said...

It's hard for me to say because news travels so much faster these days, so I hear infinitely more about it. I think about the wars through the years and have to wonder if there actually is more rage. My gut says that yes, there is. Eckhart Tolle postulates about this in his book "The Power of Now," which I love and agree with (obviously). I know that chaos, pain and acting out have always existed. I think we just have more effective ways of hurting each other now. Definitely a problem.

meno said...

I have no way of knowing if there is more rage. But it is sure easier to grab a weapon and do some serious damage in a short amount of time. And we all hear about it right away.

Anonymous said...

I think it's partly that we're living in a world of widespread "instantaneous gratification." People don't spend enough time thinking about something to think past the rage to the consequences.

flutter said...

We need to look at history, as this type of behavior is not new. It may be shocking, as to the method, but murder has been around for as long as we have.

If you look back to Roman times, people were killed at random, by neighbors and strangers and family members at a rate much more alarming than what we see now. We have to take into consideration, the population, then as well, but more people were killed by violent causes in those times than by natural causes, tenfold.

Such is not the case in today's world.

However, rage takes so many forms and while it is not new either, we've made no strides as an "enlightened" society to change it. This is not only here in America, but worldwide.

Rimarama said...

I tend to agree with some of the other posters who aren't sure if there's really any more rage in this day and age than there ever was, only that we tend to hear of it more quickly (and maybe that feeds it?)

Anonymous said...

I think a sense of community is lost. As we become a global thinking/working/spending force, we are seeing the world from our insularviews with less tolerance for our neighbors. just my immediate reaction.

ewe are here said...

I suspect a lot of it has to do with the ever growing divide between the haves and the have nots ... and the increased visibility of the gap to go with it. So much flaunting of wealth at the top; so little concern for those at the bottom. Result: rage.

liv said...

precisely what meno said. and lifting from jen, the world is so desensitized to crime and violence that they're detached from the product of their rage.

MsLittlePea said...

Who knows. This definitely makes me think of my own temper. It does seem like more people have such a sense of entitlement(I'm guilty of this as well).

slouching mom said...

Violence being glorified (or at the very least condoned) culturally;

Easy access to weapons that depersonalize killing (i.e., guns);

Children never suffering even the barest of consequences for wrongdoing

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Rats in a maze. Too many people crammed into too small a space so that everyone believes his own survival depends upon competing successfully for everything.

I also agree with those who posited that as the divide grows between rich and poor and is accompanied by an ever greater sense of entitlement on the part of the rich, rage is engendered in those who can't get near the spigot that provides all the goodies.

Historically, where there exists a privileged and insensitive upper class and a serving lower class with nothing in between, you have an inevitable uprising in the making. The middle class provides a buffer between the two extremes. Remove it, and all hell breaks loose.

I suspect that there may also be a sense of unreality to violence born of seeing cartoon characters get mowed flat by steam rollers and pop up good as new in the next frame. There is so much recreational violence in video games, TV shows, and yes, cartoons, that young people may on some level believe that death is not real or permanent. I think that if children were raised in a gentler society, there would be less violent acting out of their frustrations.

Christine said...

i don't have a good answer.

i'm just downright sad about it all.

painted maypole said...

i wonder about this, and I am not so sure that there is more rage now, as there is more access to GUNS, which now provide more killing power and faster, which provide a way to display your rage in an awesome show of power and destruction, that feels impersonal both because you are not doing it with your own hands, and because we have become desensitized (or perhaps excited by) the violence in our media.

Anvilcloud said...

I dunno. I get sooo mad thinking about all of the rage. Sorry ... couldn't resist ... it's very late ... or early.

Anonymous said...

I think people are living lives we were never meant to live: too much stuff, too much food, too much stimulation; not enough silence.

I believe that if we took a young offender and stuck him on an island all by himself for a month that most of the time he'd come back better for it. Instead they're warehoused, packed shoulder to shoulder in gray concrete buildings, and they come out worse than they went in.

Sherry said...

I think a lot of the media is such an insult to our natural intelligence. I stopped watching or listening to the news since Sept 11th and choose to think and feel PEACE and I do much better for it. My children have learned to analyze any tv shows. If I do happen to hear radio news I hear it is mostly instilling fear into the listeners. Do we really need this? If I wtached or listened to news I would be feeling very angry, frustrated and powerless. If I heard about murder as a way of expressing these feelings, I might think of it as an option.

Popular culture is the most dangerous drug. Bring back original thought for creating the society we want.

Emily R said...

I sometimes get 3-year-old-induced rage. It makes me so frustrated with myself, I must say.

Open Grove Claudia said...

I'm not certain there is more of it now. I think a couple things: 1) we hear about it more, and 2) we aren't engaged in battle with the environment, the "Indians", or anyone else.

There are people who postulate that there is more psychopathy and narcissism now. However the folks that do this research deny that claim. Psychopaths have always consisted of 2% of the population - they are our heroes (Leonitis comes to mind).

It's unbelievable to me when people talk about "Columbine" who weren't here, don't know anyone involved, didn't participate in even fundraising and basically just watched the movie on television. My question is: why is something that has absolutely nothing to do with you so interesting?