Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

I am sick of outrage. I think too many of us, led by the sensationalism that cable TV news channels often use to try and shock viewers into watching are “flying off the handle.”

Not surprisingly to fly off the handle is an American expression.

It goes back to our pioneer days when axes were most often handmade, frontiersman whittling their own handles and attaching ax-heads that had been shipped from the industrialized East coast. Because they were often crudely fitted together, ax-heads were known to fly off the handle while being used, often resulting in injuries to the user or those near-by. The suddenness of an ax-head being flung off – and the resulting trouble it caused – naturally suggests a sudden, wild outburst of anger, the loss of self-control, or losing one’s cool, all with a possible threat of harm

Outrage has become so prevalent that real outrage, justifiable anger at injustice is hard to distinguish from the outbursts that just buy the speakers a headline for a day. If everyone is angry our conversations become more like armed encounters than anything else. My mental image for what I too often hear on the news is that words fly through the air like detached ax heads without a thought for who or what they may strike once they are launched.

This is not the way to solve the complex problems that face us. Righteous anger can be a powerful motivator. Free ranging anger isn’t a motivator; it is heartburn and high blood pressure and maybe an ulcer. Really, does anyone think that a bunch of red-in-the-face, screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs, mad-as-hell people are going to actually fix anything?

To play with the phrase a bit, I think the answer is to get a handle on things. Take a deep breath and just get a grip. Please and Thank You.

Reader Comments Welcome.