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Are we in an epidemic of rage and intolerance?

I hear in my counselling work and see in the world around me so much rage and angst going on and it’s got me thinking. Everyone seems so angry. You can tell this when you look at social media - the minute someone states how they feel, or expresses their thoughts or an opinion, people are so quick to shut them down or hate on them. It’s ugly. There seems to be an epidemic of ‘rage and intolerance’ going on.

I ask why, and when I strip it back, we know anger is usually brought about by fear and/or a result of oppression. When we look at what we have experienced in recent times there has been a build-up of numerous issues that we have had no control over and have caused worry, hardship and divisiveness in our society, such as global warming, the Covid pandemic, the war between Russia and the Ukraine, the devastating economic crisis - it seems endless and keeps coming.

But when I look back at other disasters and times of hardship in history, such as the world wars, I can’t help asking, what was different about then? Why did people seem to be kinder to each other, more supportive to each other and pull together through those hard times then, but not now? Would we be capable of making our way through things in the same way if something like that ever happened again? These days everyone seems so focused on their own entitlement rather than be tolerant, kind or supportive to others.

You won’t always agree with others, we have all been brought up in different environments and lived different experiences, but surely that’s the beauty of the human race, that we are all so different? Which I think means we are potentially missing a trick here. If we could embrace our differences and be more tolerant of each other and pull together in hard times, we can actually pull on the benefits and the wisdom of everybody’s differences and we could be capable of so much more. Now that, I believe, would bring about progression.

It makes me sad when I think of how we behave towards each other, I have no doubt that the way we are behaving these days is furthering division, segregation and isolation, and further compounding and worsening any mental health issues people are already experiencing.

So, what is the solution? Education and awareness, not just of the self but also the people around us, and those in our wider communities. What does community mean? The definition is ‘the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.’ This is an important point and one I think we have almost completely lost sight of in modern society. Communities are created through and maintained by human connections, and research has shown us that human connection is essential to enable us to reach our full potential and self-actualisation. For us to be productive and happy we rely on it. And for anyone dealing with mental health issues - human connection is vitally important in their recovery.

These days a lot of us live at a hundred miles an hour, rushing and jostling along with the rest of society. But how about stopping, just for a short while, every so often, and just take a peek over the top of the parapet, and just check in with ourselves and those around us, to make sure we are all doing okay?

And while we are moving at such a fast pace, the next time you see something in social media that riles you, or someone is walking too slowly in front of you, or someone accidentally pulls out in front of you in your car - when you feel that initial rage, the first step is to recognise it. And then consider whether it is worth wasting precious energy raging about it, or shooting the other person down and making them feel terrible, just to make yourself feel better for a short moment. And how about just considering that they have a life going on just as you have, that they are a fellow human being with feelings just like you, and you have the power but not the right to make someone feel bad. Someone may already be having a really terrible time, and your anger might be the tipping point for them to have a breakdown or put into action those thoughts of harming themself or to even end their life.

My conclusion is we are all human, we all have differences, but we are all living on this planet together, and we could all do so much better if we pulled together and accepted, appreciated and used our beautiful differences for the greater good.

Wishing you love, peace and happiness, for your greater good.

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