Monday, January 10, 2011

Why I Will Never Be in the Tea Party

First off, this is not about politics.  Irregardless of whether or not I agree with the political goals of the Tea Party or Sarah Palin is completely irrelevant.  If this were the 1960s (and I'd been alive then) the same would apply to the Black Panther Party.  I still would not want anything to do with it.

Whenever we form a group based on anger, bringing out only the worst most aggressive elements in humanity, it can never truly lead to good.  Even if their ideals are eventually realized, the shear fact that this extreme force was used along the way will prevent the easier adoptation of those ideals and changes.  Whenever people are attacked, they remember it a lot longer than when they are coerced, and change and forgiveness are always much further away.  Which is one of the primary reasons, I feel, even almost 50 years later there are still people who think of African Americans as violent delinquents, even when race has little to do with the issue of aggressive delinquency for most of them.

Influencing any fringe movement is always dangerous.  The mentally unstable and the under-affluent tend to congregate near the fringe.  This is absolutely vital to remember when in charge of any kind of movement, on any scale.  These people are easily influenced, quick to express trigger reactions to key ideas and phrases, and most of all drastically unpredictable.  They live on the political right and the political left, but seldom in the middle.  The middle is simply against their nature.  Even if they agreed with the middle they would drift to and edge, it's just how they are wired.

Aside from the radical of radicals, there is the anger issue.  Anger is extremely powerful.  Biblically, Christians are cautioned to be "slow to anger".  Yet, even our God has shown righteous anger, repeatedly.  To bring it down to its simplest, there is "good" or "righteous" anger, and there is "bad" or "sinful" anger.  In a religious setting it becomes anger for ones' own situation, and anger on behalf of God.  In a non religious setting we could say it's anger in self pity, and anger on behalf of others.  Now this last isn't an absolute, after all this country (United States - my home base for writing from and home of the Tea Party) was founded from the first kind of anger in a secular sense, self pitying anger.  Most people tend to agree that the Revolutionary War of the United States of America and the founding of it's new form of government which followed has not been a "bad move" in the grand scheme of events, yet it was formed by and continues to be transformed by a selfish anger of it's most vocal and violent constituents.

While I try to remain objectively passive, I am not immune to anger.  In fact I spent a large part of my life (almost all of my childhood) as a slave to a violent anger.  You see once triggered, anger is hard to quelch.  Especially, when whatever method is used to trigger your anger (typically some shortcoming that you haven't learned to accept in your life) is still present.  Now, I'm going to side step again and acknowledge that sometimes disadvantages do need to be addressed as a society and changes do need to be made, slavery and segregation are wrong, as is racism in any format, including nationality bias, mistreatment of those with disability, and any form of prejudice - these are all things that society struggles with and needs to address, but anger of the situations does not, in the long run, make them better.  Sure it gets attention, but there are other ways as well, namely when those not in the affected party get "good" anger about the situation.

This "good" anger is different.  It isn't about self and self mistreatment, it's about seeing the mistreatment of others, or animals, or the environment in a way that only at the most indirectly affects the individual and they feel a swelling of anger and disgust at the behaviors in such a way that they are able to influence culture.

The Tea Party (like so many other "parties" before it) does not see things in a "good" anger.  Maybe some members do, but they seek to bring out the "bad" anger in their members.  They attract prejudice for those who do not agree with them, or those who are perceived as part of the problem.   They rally a base selfish hate.  They carry on with such a loud aggressive rage that those around are affected both for and against.  It is  almost impossible to be passive in their presence, which of course is one of their goals, to get anger erupting in all.  Yet, all can not control or appropriately channel their anger, and this undirectable violence spills into other media.  There are fist fights in parking lots.  Brawls in bars.  Bad words between friends and family.  These extra actions caused by a flared anger are where the real scares of the movement will be found.  In the uncontrollable aggressions is spurs in it's followers, both rational and irrational.

And because of that anger, that is why I will never be a member of the Tea Party.

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