Anger will destroy us

It’s all about being mad: especially mad at government. Do those who feel extremely mad (and I’m one of those) have a legitimate reason for this anger? You bet we do. Howard Beale in the 1975 film classic, Network, shoves his head out the window and at the top of his voice shouts: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Mad is what we are, but when it becomes where we live and who we are then all we become is a destroyer of everything sacred. When anger is our single driving force we never can get back to objectivity where the greater part of truth lives.

The French Revolution in 1789 was all about anger, righteous anger, for sure, but anger as the driving emotion.  In Western Europe it would signal the end of absolute monarchs, but while some good things eventually came out of those ten years of revolution, the cost ratio was very high, most predominately in the deaths of thousands. In the immediate aftermath of this rebellion they got Robespierre and the Reign of Terror. Then they would get Napoleon who believed it was his destiny to rebuild the glory of France.

Speaking of Napoleon, a very important person in his administration, if you want to describe it that way, was a theologian/representative of the Catholic Church to the Crown of France, and under Napoleon was French Foreign Minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. Some of us might have heard the name Talleyrand, maybe, but most of us really don’t. Why should we Americans know this gentleman? If I said Louisiana Territory would that ring a bell? What if I said, Louisiana Purchase, would that help?

France had always wanted a foothold in the Americas and did to a small degree in what was called New France, a very large, sparsely settled colony stretching from Louisiana and through the Mississippi Valley, all the way up to the Great Lakes and into Canada. When Americans spilled over into the upper Ohio River Valley looking to expand into new areas they clashed with the French leading to what Americans call the “French and Indian War,” and what others call, “the Seven Years War.” It was a very costly war for France and a blow to their idea of a foothold in the Americas.

Talleyrand convinced Napoleon that France could keep the Louisiana Territory and in 1800 Napoleon secretly signed a treaty with Spain that officially gave France full control of the territory. France and Spain had been jockeying back and forth for this land, especially in New Orleans.

As you might recall from one of your history classes there was going on in Europe, particularly between Britain, Spain, and France, something called the Hundred Years War. It’s this war that helped us before by keeping much of the British power in Europe and not on our shores giving us a chance to defeat them.

Long story short, France wanted to establish itself in the Louisiana Territory and President Thomas Jefferson learned about the secret treaty and Jefferson had our French Ambassador, Robert Livingston, negotiate with Napoleon to give us at least New Orleans. Livingston failed to get such an agreement. In 1803 Jefferson sent to Paris James Monroe who was not aware that a great gift was about to be offered to the United States. It turns out that at this time France and England were about to go head-to-head again in battle and Napoleon needed money to fight the war and Talleyrand convinced him to sell off the Louisiana Territory because he could not financially do both things—establish territory in the Americas and fight the British in Europe—so for $11, 250,000 America now owned the territory from Canada all the way south to New Orleans, thanks to Talleyrand, and Jefferson who knew a good thing when he saw it, as some 34 years in the future another great gift (purchase) would fall into our hands, Alaska.

Talleyrand pops up again in a speech by Senator Paul Douglass (D-Illinois, 1949-67) in a dispute between the Federal Reserve System and U.S. Treasury: “Talleyrand said that words were used to conceal thought. I [Sen. Douglass] have always thought that words should be used to express thought, and it is the lack of this quality which I find unsatisfactory in your testimony throughout.” (taken from The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve, by Peter Conti-Brown, pg. 36.)

Words used to conceal not reveal. This is exactly part of our anger with politicians who use words to conceal from us the real truth making us think truth is as they offer it, and it isn’t. For instance, regarding Benghazi it was all about “the video” when it clearly wasn’t, designed to hide from Americans the failures of Obama and Sec. of State Clinton. Obama and his administration has been excused from so many lies because for Democrats the lie is preferable than to a Republican. Never mind the destruction of democracy, or our Constitutional Republic. Many of us are fed up with this plethora of lies and failures couched in words that conceal rather than reveal.

But the Republican Party has no room for pointing the finger because they too—what we refer to as the “establishment Republicans”—are and have been doing the same thing. Both sides have been playing party politics and despite the rhetoric (words to conceal rather than reveal) neither party cares one whit about we citizens, only their politics.

Now let me go back to the reason I began with the French Revolution: it was a revolt driven by anger. Anger is where the Third Estate (the general public with little to no voice) lived. It defined them and their actions and reactions.

Some thirteen years earlier was the American Revolution, which was an inspiration for the French Revolution. In fact, Thomas Paine who played a large role in the American Revolution with his tract, Common Sense, tried to play an equally large role in the French Revolution though Rights of Man, though he failed, and the revolution failed though it did end absolute monarchy.

Why did the French Revolution fail when the American Revolution succeeded? Both citizens of each nation were mad at their rulers—for France it was King Louis XIV and for America it was England. Both people demanded a change in leadership. The key to French failure and American success was what they did with anger. The French lived their anger, the Americans used their anger. Americans turned to leadership like John and Samuel Adams, James Madison, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, James Maddison, and a host of others who took that anger and shaped an objective government based upon principles not decided by anger but by God. They created something, not just tear something down.

I’m afraid we are building a new French Revolution where anger is our driving emotion, not reason. For some reason we do not want to step back from our anger and use it to build something. Our anger is keeping us focused not on deeper truths but simply a restatement of our anger.

Look again at everything a candidate says and does. Are their words concealing or revealing? Are we seeing a new Napoleon (I, I, I, I) or a new Kennedy (ask not what your government can do for you but what you can do)? Are we witnessing a King George or Thomas Jefferson? We won’t know if we don’t stop and really look and ask questions. We won’t know if their words conceal or reveal unless we really look. We aren’t looking believing anger will find a solution. It won’t.

But this person got us to the dance. Great! It doesn’t mean that this person is the one to take you home. They’re naming all the dances but can’t name one step. Doesn’t that worry you? Not if anger is still where you live. If you change that anger to what you use you will find revealing words and a path, like our Founders did, to what you want.