Line Of Sight

What angers you? (Last Part)

Many were especially angered, and with good reason, by the close to US$1-billion in donations to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, because of the seemingly misplaced priorities of philanthropists and the French government. Citing increased homelessness in France and several other oppressions in other nations, French President Emmanuel Macron received several criticisms for his pledge to rebuild the cathedral within five years. One possible explanation for this, that would gloss over several other realities, is that there is no clear endgame in the fight against poverty, whereas the restoration of a centuries-old cathedral has a definite result. Perhaps a resolution to this is that your actions should be seen as gradient and continuous, rather than isolated extremes. Decisions made should always align with your goal.

Another cruel reality that riles up an aggression is climate change and its threat to the environment. This issue is particularly worrying, because the future of the current and coming generations are at stake. The truly depressing fact in this is the lack of respect for the gravity of the situation by the majority of the populace.

In 2017, the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, one of the goals of which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The withdrawal caused a stir in the media, with many environmental activists urging the Trump administration to return to the accord. The resentment towards President Donald Trump for backing out of the 2015 Paris Agreement was channeled into damage control, as several influential people urged and stressed the role individuals play in reducing the effect of climate change.

Personally, I find the ubiquity of ignorance in today’s society especially infuriating. Ignorance, in this context, is the inability of an individual to accept new, truer information over previously held truths.

A good example of this is the revival of the anti-vaccine movement. Opposition to vaccines dates back to its creation, although the rhetoric then was primarily theological and political. Today, despite the hundreds of studies cementing the efficacy of vaccines, the movement has snowballed into popularity once more. The inevitable recoil to this is the return of previously declared eliminated diseases, such as measles and whooping cough.

A similar, if not a better illustration of this ignorance is the reemergence of the believers of a flat Earth. Even in the face of scientific and photographic evidence, ‘flat earthers’ stand their ground, dismissing the truth with ad hoc explanations.

In contrast, with the digital revolution ushering in the information age, knowledge has never been more accessible at any time in history. The advent of the internet has led to an unprecedented distribution and movement of knowledge amongst all peoples, regardless of geography. Like a highway, however, both bad and good drivers roam its roads.

The internet is a double-edged sword. Without regulation from peers and authorities, the wrong information will continue to permeate. Without checks and balances, the information superhighway could very well be the tools demagogues use to exploit this ignorance, spread hate, and create a divide among the population.

Anger, like all other emotions when left unchecked, will have its severe repercussions. These could be as heartbreaking as a shattered friendship or as ghastly as a destroyed nation. We are no strangers to the horrors of war, or at least to the history of it. In a controversial paper, psychologist Steven Pinker asserts that we are living in history’s most peaceful times. Modern societies, he claims, have become more proficient in keeping the peace.

However, critics argue it is more likely that violence is decreasing, because there is no more utility in it. We have moved from hunter-gatherers to an agricultural society and, eventually, to here today. Extreme violence is no longer a solution to economic problems and disputes. Nevertheless, there is no denying that anger and its destructive manifestations have left several indelible impressions in collective human memory.

On a more personal level, anger reveals the most human attribute of all—love. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the greatness in humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.” By being angry, when justified and appropriate, we expose our benevolence and compassion in an attempt to correct the injustices and wrongdoings in the world. The inability to be angered would be a result of chronic desensitization and would push humanity to the brink of indifference and apathy. Anger is necessary and, therefore, inevitable.

 

John Glenn Lambayon is a junior audit and assurance officer at P&A Grant Thornton Davao. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members with offices in Makati, Cavite, Cebu and Davao. For more comments on this artcile, please email glenn.lambayon@ph.gt.com or PAGrantThornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com

 

 

As published in Mindanao Times, dated 15 May 2019