Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tempered Outrage

I gave my annual talk at the Orff Course today and my now dear friend and supporter Peter Meckel came up afterwards and said: “The anger is gone.” He has come to my talks each of the past 7 years and always found appreciative things to say, but he had mentioned before that the anger got in the way of the message. So tonight he said, “You are not the same person you were five years ago.”

And he’s right. And really, no need to try to figure out why, but that’s like telling me “Don’t think of a monkey.” Of course, I ‘m going to try to analyze it and reflect and figure out what happened.
I came up with three things:

1)   First off, I was going through a crisis in my school back then that shook me to the core and made me feel like my life’s work was a short flush down the toilet away and none of it was deserved. It was Shakespearean betrayal to the max and I simply found it impossible to accept that it was happening. Now it’s all in a much, much better place.

2)   While I still believe in the importance of outrage, the refusal to accept that the way things are is so, so far away from the way things should be, I also understand more clearly that such outrage needs to move to another level. Not only does it start to eat away at the person outraged, but it doesn’t attract the people you want to reach to help turn things around. You may be right to feel it and justified and all of that, but none of that ultimately helps either you or the world if you get stuck there. Oddly enough, I think it is Trump that is helping me take a larger and more philosophic view that “this too, shall pass,” more so than was possible for me during the Bush times. He just is so ridiculously horrible and unqualified that I feel the country starting to wake up a bit and lean towards human decency.

3)   If I never read a newspaper and relied solely on my experience, my perception of the world would be, “Fabulous!! Such wonderful people! Such a joyful time we’re having! Such fantastic music and dance! Such lovely children! Such delicious food and beautiful parks and vibrant city streets! Such a thorough education!” Of course, plenty of room for complaint - the SF Sales Force tower, a few bad ideas leaking through at school, relationship troubles, too much garbage on the streets, too much time looking at cell phones, etc. etc. But taking this summer as an example, every single day of these past seven weeks has been worthy of praise and gratitude. Why waste time being angry when life is so glorious?!

So I was happy to get Peter’s comment. I still believe in the value of outrage and in my talk, I most definitely mentioned things that need work or expansion or new life. But especially showing the videos of all the kids and people making such expressive music with so much joy, how could I be anything but optimistic?

So maybe it could change, but looks like I’m not going to be that cynical, grumpy, grouchy, old codger. I’m keeping my outrage on a leash and it feels good.

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