06
Jan
22

It’s An Outrage!

The other day I heard someone say (or perhaps they posted it on a social media platform), “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

The implication here is that the goal of awake, alert people should be to ascend to a state of perpetual outrage as we observe events unfolding around us.  

And personally, I am outraged at that suggestion.

I mean, yes, there are very important and noteworthy things going on in the world. Yes, there are bad actors perpetrating grief and misery upon innocent victims every day. Yes, there are catastrophic weather events taking place here, there, and everywhere. Yes, there is disease, famine, poverty, addiction, greed, war, and environmental degradation sweeping across the face of our planet. 

And yes, I am concerned about every one of those things. 

But I really, truly resent the efforts of you Controllers of the Public Discourse who seek to whip me up into a never-ending state of outraged frenzy about it. 

For example, is it really necessary to begin EVERY SINGLE nightly national news broadcast with the breathless incantation, “Breaking news tonight…”, followed by an overly dramatized report of something I found out about six hours ago?

Of course, news is a business. Social media is ALSO a business. As such, these businesses succeed or fail based on how many eyeballs are watching and how many ears are listening. And the Head Honchos of these businesses know that eyes and ears aren’t drawn to them by calm, matter-of-fact descriptions of important events. 

Oh no. 

They know that eyes and ears are only drawn in by LOUD, BOMBASTIC declarations of DIRE EMERGENCY!!

And when you and I fall for this trick by choosing to walk around in an uninterrupted state of OUTRAGE, we only ensure a future of LOUDER and MORE BOMBASTIC declarations of dire emergency from the people holding the megaphones. 

And perish the thought of ever leading with a story about the overflowing milk of human kindness, decency, and compassion. No, those are the stories reserved for the last 45 seconds of the Nightly News. 

So, what are we to do? How do we straddle the divide between the call to be INFORMED while resisting the call to become OUTRAGED?

Let me say first that I don’t believe OUTRAGE is always misplaced. Outrage is the appropriate response to an outrageous event. Outrage is also the thing that spurs us to get up off our tooshies and ACT! 

Ginned-up outrage, however, only serves to hike up our blood pressure and feed the click counters of the Media Masters. 

First, we must figure out how to be thoughtful about our outrage. And before you say it, I will confess I recognize the fact that this advice is much easier SPOKEN than ACTED. Most of the time my outrage is quick… emotion-based… explosive. I get outraged because I have NOT been thoughtful or reflective. In those times I make myself an easy target for the click-bait headlines that start with phrases like, “You Won’t Believe What ___________ Just Did!” 

When we digest the events of the day, it might be good to ask questions like, “What is really at stake here?” or “Who benefits most by my outrage?” or “What good does it do for me to blow my top about this?”

Next, if we have a hard time moderating our reactions to the world around us, it might be great to declare a News Fast. You might decide to make it for 24 hours, a week, a month, or an undetermined period. Make it just like the time you swore of chocolate, booze, or red meat, only better. 

Ultimately, the lesson we should all learn is the lesson of the exiled Israelites from 586 (or so) BCE. Faced with an endless stream of failure, frustration, fiasco, flood, fire, and famine, they were at the end of their collective rope. They had perhaps greater reason to be outraged than any group of people before or since. They were supposed to be God’s Chosen People and yet, here they sat… exiled in a foreign land. 

Just when their fists were weary from being shaken so vigorously at the sky, God spoke to them through the prophet Jeremiah and said, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NRSV).

Yes. Things fall apart. Plans backfire. People do stupid stuff. Outrageous events happen all around us. But in the middle of it all, God reminds us to hold out for a better day ahead.

Abundant blessings;


7 Responses to “It’s An Outrage!”


  1. 1 Carol Congalton
    January 6, 2022 at 2:30 am

    Very well expressed!

  2. January 6, 2022 at 2:53 pm

    AMEN, Russ! I have been on a virtual news fast for a long, long time, and I believe I am better for it. When I do hear or read the news, it’s usually the same stuff I was hearing months ago, and I once again decide to turn away from the outrage and work toward being one of those who create “good news” – even though, as you say, it rarely gets recognized or spotlighted. I, too, detest the headlines intended to create curiosity and outrage before the article is even read, although I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve taken the bait and clicked. Anyway, I agree, instead of reacting to the bad news, we should focus on being a source of good news.

    • January 6, 2022 at 11:46 pm

      I believe you are doing exactly that, Annie (creating “good news,” that is) with your blog, your books, your one-to-one witness and your generally hope-filled outlook. I am continually encouraged by Romans 5:20 where Paul reminds us that, “… where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Keep doing what you’re doing!

  3. January 7, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    Amen, Russell!! I have “fasted” from the furious! Yesterday, after a snow storm tried to keep us from getting Dad to his most important MRI, my Mom expressed outrage. Over everything. Kindly I shared that she take a break from the news~because the most important news came 10 hours later~Breaking News~BENIGN! After 3 cancers, a brain aneurysms, heart failure, you name it,…Dad had BENIGN results! Last night, I’m reinforcing it, I thought, “Now that’s outrageous what God can do!” Russell, I have a biopsy on Monday. I want the news to continue to be good! And no matter what, the good news will remain that I’m in my Father’s hands! No matter what. Thank you always for sharing wisdom and practical peaceful ways to keep it all in our Savior’s perspective! God bless you!

    • January 8, 2022 at 7:26 pm

      Absolutely. I’m praying for the desired result from your biopsy, but confident that the One who began a good work in you will see it to completion in Christ Jesus. (I read that somewhere. 😊)


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