THE END OF OUTRAGE

Just as I was contemplating how the existence of President Bush’s Disappearance Squads had finally gotten me to the point of outrage (see previous post), I stumbled on this article by J. Bottum (on the “First Things” blog) on why it takes so much effort to even get outraged by anything anymore.

Here’s a snippet:

Maybe I’ve just gotten too old to stoke the fires of outrage anymore. The cost of aging, Matthew Arnold once wrote, is not that we no longer feel, but that our emotions are things so much less intense than they used to be. We are condemned to “feel but half, and feebly, what we feel.”

But repetition is also a cause of feeling’s decline. Who cares anymore about all that stuff? The culture wars are over, ended by terminal boringness. Oh, there are American campuses, here and there, about which it’s still worth having a fight. And there are degradations of the culture, here and there, that can’t be ignored. But for the most part, the complaint about how bad things are has no purchase left—and ought, I think, to have no purchase left. No one is left to persuade, one way or the other, and the way things are now is pretty much what we’re going to be stuck with for a long time to come.

Unless, of course, we manage to start offering a better alternative.

“First Things”, by the way, is a very worthy magazine, and the website is usually good for some interesting reading as well.

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