By Nathan Barton
Okay, we are angry with government. LOTS of people are angry with government.
But what can we do about it? The entire idea of self-government is that we don’t let, or need, others to control us. We need to control, channel, and use our anger against government and its minions and users.
To this end, here are some suggestions.
Step one: recognize that you ARE angry and WHY – specifically – you are angry. It is more than just emotions: clearly identify what created the anger. Was it a specific action? Was it some specific person’s attitude? Was it their inability to understand the situation and facts? Was it the supposedly “unintended consequences” of a law, reg, rule, or action? The better we can identify what precisely angered us, the better we can deal with and use our anger.
Step two: give yourself some time. Unless the action or attitude that made you angry will have an immediate life-or-death impact on you or others. There is time to clearly think about what they did or how they acted, to figure out how to best handle it. Remain calm. Don’t immediately respond with your own words or deeds.
Step three: be sure and figure out why you responded to their action how you did, and what factors in the situation caused the anger. Did you set yourself up for it by taking government (or the need for it, or the expected response of the agency) for granted? Did you let yourself be dependent on it? And what exactly about the action or attitude made you angry? Was it because the person you were dealing with reinterpreted something that hadn’t really changed? (Ask three bureaucrats to explain a reg and you’ll probably get four different answers.) Was it because the rules changed? And was that because the law changed? Who is really to blame? Is it the General Assembly (legislature) or Congress? Or some political-appointee? Or was it the boss of the low-level bureaucrat you are having to deal with? Or the shift sergeant of the cop? And why? They got too many complaints? Someone changed policies? They are trying to get more money? (from fines and fees: direct theft? Or from grants and loans: indirect theft?)
Step four is often necessary to get all the answers in step three: Talk calmly about what made you angry, and why you are angry, to the person – the cop or ‘crat or “public spokesman” that made you mad. Explain to them and listen carefully to their answer, and to what they DO NOT say. Note their reasons and their excuses and their justification for their behavior (these are usually three different things). Find out who has the authority to do what they did AND to tell them what to not or stop doing. It is important to be calm, explain why, but NOT volunteer any more information than you must. Remember, EVERYTHING you say can and WILL be used against you. If not this time, this place, and with this agency, then the next or the next. And remember, at least some of the time the ‘crat or cop or political appointee is also not that happy about what they are doing. They are often forced to do something (or think they are forced) that they don’t really want to, or don’t think is a good idea. I can’t say for sure, but suspect that probably half of them are angry at their own (and other) government agencies. (Unfortunately, some because they don’t think their bosses or agency are tough enough.
Step five is both important and maybe the hardest to do: give up any expectation of the outcome of your anger and your research and talking.
We can let someone know that what they did or said upset us. How it was wrong. They may not agree with us. Or may believe that we are right. But…we can’t force them to take responsibility, even if they are the very person who did or decided on or authorized whatever action there was.
Sometimes, we WILL win: our anger will be appeased and the ‘crat or whomever will back down. That’s great. But don’t count on it. Instead, use the knowledge and experience gained to plan ahead, when they will no longer have the power to deny responsibility.
Some of us know what it is like to have our anger towards government sitting on our stomaches like an undigested meal – but for years. It is hard to let go of unresolved things that happened to us, our parents, or our friends years and years ago, when government beat them (or us) down.
We may need the help of other, wiser, lovers of liberty, to help us at least talk it out. To give us ideas of how both to heal ourselves and to work around or neutralize that part of government and its evil. And sometimes they just help us cope with the fact that (for now) we have to live with it.
We have to pick our battles. And some actions, some attitudes, are things that we can live with if we have to, in order to save our strength and courage for later. Above all, don’t make yourself sick with anger and worry over something that happened in the past and can’t be changed.
It is just not worth it. What IS worth thinking about is that eventually, the level of anger in others around us, anger towards government, will get to the level that someone snaps. And probably, a LOT of someones. And government will either go away or get pruned back so much that many of the reasons to be angry at it and its minions will be gone for a long time to come.
But let those who can’t control their anger fire the first shot. Swing the first club (or torch). Throw the first punch. Be calm and prepared both to dodge AND to (if necessary) return said fire, swing, or punch.
Use your anger to help you get the fire in your belly to do the right thing at the right time. Don’t let it control you, now or then.