Opinion: Petulance And Outrage Are Never Enchanting

Petulance And Outrage Are Never Enchanting

August March
5 min read
Why, ThatÕs Outrageous!
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According to the latest trends in cultural identification (and literally thousands of license plates affixed to a myriad of automobiles in this place), New Mexico is the land of enchantment.

Enchantment’s an odd thing. The word conjures a sense of magic. To be enchanted is to be under the influence of a greater power than generally available through human agency. So here, the stars drift by magically at night. The wind through the cottonwoods is majestic, though sometimes troublesome, and the air is scented with the aroma of fresh tortillas and roasting green chile.

Based on such descriptions, it’s easy to see why enchantment is generally a positive force amongst Nuevo Mexicanos and Burqueños.

But apparently, even magic has its limits.

A growing sense of dissatisfaction—with the normative, with the results of more than 70 years of postmodern civilization under our collective belts
has resulted in situations where humans are angry and disconsolate about the world flowing around and through them.

The culture of outrage has come to New Mexico. Influenced by commenter culture on the interwebz, social networking sites that are just one step removed from real human interaction, and a political system that is at turns disappointing and perplexing, a palpable sense of anger has manifested itself in the midst of public discourse on a variety of subjects.

Given the troubled circumstances of our current age
from a disappearing middle class to the wide-ranging evolution to social moresits seems that some of the resulting anger is righteous, is a necessary step in defining and solving the problems we have all inherited from previous generations of humans. But the tone of such expression is self-limiting, leaving participants mired in accusation, condescending language, petulance and a lack of civility that doesn’t work to illuminate or find a solution to an issue, but rather damages the links we all seek to bind together human enterprise and action.

Two local examples of the continuous and seemingly implacable outrage that has infiltrated our enchanting state come to mind. In the exploration of this aggressive sea change, it’s important for this writer to note that more could be accomplished with less. Plainly spoken, one can always catch more flies with sugar than with salt.

The recent public debates over the implementation of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit plan were fraught with a type of incivility that bordered on a wanton disregard for the social contract.

Video taken of a public meeting on the subject included footage of one of ART’s naysayers constantly interrupting a city councilman who was making a presentation about the proposed bus system. The interaction quickly devolved despite the official’s stern attempt to keep things formal; the angry protester’s demands became threatening when he repeatedly asked the councilor to “step outside” before he stormed out of the meeting and presumably caught fire.

Ultimately such representations must have had a deleterious effect on anti-ART efforts. No one from the coalition of individuals and business entities associated with that faction came forward to denounce or distance themselves from such unwarranted actions, as if each one involved was an island of righteous indignation, free from the scrutiny of others similarly involved yet tasked by that same group with disrupting and derailing a discourse aimed at improving conditions within this city.

a recent meeting of the Albuquerque Public School Board, ostensibly to discuss the implementation of policies created to ensure equal protection under the law for transgender students, instead became a heated discussion of toilet etiquette. The session also provided an opportunity for one board member to freely expound on her personal values while denigrating transgendered humans through the use of a questionable narrative based on stereotypes.

The local daily reports that while 30 individuals spoke in favor of the measure, 10 spoke against. Those who were against the policy mostly spoke about “bathroom policy.” Board member Peggy Muller-Aragon recounted, in an outraged, affected tone, how she was effectively held hostage by a transgender human while using a public restroom, telling the gathered audience that “I went into a restroom and there was a transgender person that was in there. I was in there alone, and they didn’t let me come out.”

It’s been reported that several present at the meeting scoffed at Muller-Aragon’s account, but that she said nothing further to detail or give credibility to her story. It’s well understood that humans want a comfortable place to carry out waste elimination functions, that we all have bodies which require some exposure in that process. Playing on people’s deep fears and using outrage
to drive a discussion about civil rights does little to advance any agenda that supposedly is grounded in providing for the public education of its citizens.

Interestingly, as our city and state move on toward even more complex societal issues, it seems counter-intuitive to believe we can solve our problems with civility and kindness, especially when a mean word or phrase is just a click away. But there’s the rub; in a world that has lifted human discourse past conversation and into a realm of emoticons, textual pronouncements and anonymity of avatars, it should be our duty to rehumanize our interactions.
That would be productive, progressive and enchanting.
Why, ThatÕs Outrageous!

Flower Power

Bernie Boston

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