Dissatisfaction And Anger
What is satisfaction? According to my friend Stephen Levine it is “the absence of desire.” Then is desire the opposite of satisfaction? Yes, but so is anger. Anger is the feeling you get when things are not as you think they ought to be. You have wants. They are not being met. You’re angry. Given these definitions, you would have to be crazy to not be dissatisfied and angry at the state of the world right now.
Let’s start with the obvious. Covid. There are two reasons to be angry about covid and neither is that diseases happen. I don’t believe for a minute that this one just happened and all of a sudden a coronavirus relative of SARS and MERS jumped the animal food chain and instead of killing hundreds killed millions. No, I believe that this virus was engineered in China during gain of function experiments at the Wuhan Laboratory and it somehow got out. Whether or not this was purposeful or accidental, the Chinese will be the main beneficiaries as they will have crippled the economies of the rest of the world, particularly the free world, and will probably reap the benefits in the end, not to mention what country can absorb a many-person pandemic better than China?
The second reason to be angry about covid is that none of this has to be as bad as it is. All that is needed is a full court press throughout humanity to get people vaccinated and to have done so six months ago before the various variants manifested themselves. These vaccines are miracles, but ones being ignored by half of the country. Dissatisfied and disappointed in my fellow Americans? You bet. We as a country did not have to suffer like this. The all-society isolation of New Zealand almost protected the country entirely. That was never going to be possible in a non-island nation like ours, but surely we could have done better than this and I am angry about it because it directly impacts me and everyone around me whose lives have been disrupted by the virus.
Then there’s Afghanistan. Did we really need to be humiliated again in the eyes of the world? No. Had the Biden Administration reversed the Trump plan to pull out by May entirely and done to that agreement what Trump did to the Obama Iran Agreement (rip it up) we would have 2500 troops in-country and the Taliban at bay unwilling to challenge the United States directly. If not a more measured withdrawal, how about some planning for this one like getting all Americans out two months ago? All that’s gone and undoubtedly Al Qaeda (or ISIS-K) will emerge in Afghanistan and we may or may not know about it given our lack of eyes on the ground any longer. Angry about this? I am.
Finally, the politics of the American government has rendered progress impossible. Even as President Biden gets an infrastructure bill through the Senate, House progressives want to hold it up until they get a $3.5 trillion giveaway in place. Lots of the things in this package are worthy, but do we have the money to do it and why can’t it wait? Let’s get the roads, bridges and high-speed internet lines built now.
Covid, Afghanistan and Congress. They are all enough to make your blood boil and be as far from satisfaction as you can get.
These and many other problems including climate change, economic inequity, a flawed justice system and racism have created a real sense of disquiet in America and around the world. If our leaders really want to ease that disquiet, that dissatisfaction, that anger, they will have to address these problems head on and work together toward solutions. As the latter seems unlikely, I suspect I will remain angry a bit longer. Absence of desire? Far from it!