Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Outrage Fatigue?

There are some traditions I cherish: Thanksgiving turkey, Superbowl Sunday, 4th of July fireworks, and election-eve tv coverage. Yesterday our church was the poling site for the precinct. It was really fun to watch all day long as a steady stream of neighbors came through to do their civic duty. Out on the street and beyond were cars with taped signs advocating one cause or another. Baloons lined the street with hand-lettered sings with arrows saying "VOTE." All day long, from about 7 am till 8pm they came because it's the time for the individual voter to speak.
Then later last night as I watched complicated tv graphics turning dots from red to blue and graphs shifting in % points, with projected outcomes, results, implications, it was fun. It was fun listening to James Carville and William Bennet spin the same statistics different ways. It's amazing the power euphemisms bring. Losses become course re-directions and strategic moments for re-focussing. Narrow wins become mandates.
But what I heard this morning on a grocery store drive to restock breakfast cereal was the caution that we, as a nation, are suffering from "outrage fatigue." We have been scandalled to death: Iraq, Abu Grahb (sp?), Mark Folley, Ted Haggard, Enron, etc. We all know how "bad" it is. We are disgusted with people wasting time, money and lives. But, the commentator stressed, now is the time NOT to ramp up guilt-finding commissions, but instead focus on solution-making. Now is the time to get some positive momentum going with the economy, education, environment, international relations, North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Darfur, health-care, etc.
It's so much easier to rehearse why things are bad and whose fault it is (never mine but always my predecessor or current opponents). It's much tougher to cast a positive vision for the future. It's time.


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