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Addicted to Outrage
How Thinking Like a Recovering Addict Can Heal the Country
Table of Contents
About The Book
Glenn Beck, the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Reset—issues a startling challenge to people on both sides of the aisle: America is addicted to outrage, we’re at the height of a twenty-year bender, and we need an intervention.
In the instant New York Times bestseller, Glenn Beck addresses how America has become more and more divided—both politically and socially. Americans are now less accepting, less forgiving, and have lost faith in many of the country’s signature ideals. They are quick to point a judgmental finger at the opposing party, are unwilling to doubt their own ideologies, and refuse to have any self-awareness whatsoever. Beck states that this current downward spiral will ultimately lead to the destruction of everything America has fought so hard to preserve. This is not simply a Republican problem. This is not simply a Democratic problem. This is everyone’s burden, and we need to think like recovering addicts and change.
Mirroring traditional twelve-step programs, Beck outlines the actions that Americans must follow in order to prevent a farther decline down this current path of hostile bitterness. Drawing from his own life experiences and including relevant examples for each step, he is able to lead us to a more hopeful, happy future. From learning how to believe in something greater than ourselves to understanding the importance of humility, each chapter encourages self-reflection and growth.
Addicted to Outrage is a timely and necessary guide for how Americans—right and left—must change to survive.
And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years, chances are you’re addicted to outrage, too. If you don’t believe you are part of the problem, I recommend you start with my last book: Liars.
I know it is tough to even think about being part of the problem, but the truth is, we all are. Believe it or not, I have good friends across the entire political spectrum. We actually all like each other and respect each other. Over the years I have really tried to listen to those with whom I don’t always agree. I have learned a ton. Not just about the other “side” but also about me. My biggest mistakes always revolve around my thinking “I am right and they are wrong.” The moment I begin to feel that, I begin to believe that “the other side has nothing to teach me.” I have made this mistake many times; I have failed to listen, and it always creates problems. I did it in the 2016 election. I was so sure about Donald Trump that I failed to listen to what half of the country was actually saying. I had become so blinded by him that I failed to see the who and the why supporting him. Did you know that over 20 percent of Donald Trump supporters consider themselves Democrats and voted for Obama? Of course not, because if you know that, you begin to see deep flaws in not only the GOP but also the Democratic platform and candidates.
When I am listening, really listening, I discover something truly game changing. We many times—not always, but much of the time—are saying almost the same exact thing, just with different words. This is not true with Live-or-Die Demopublicans. Nor am I suggesting that those who believe in the republic under the Constitution and Bill of Rights will agree or perhaps even like a communist revolutionary. But if we actually listen to each other, we may find that one of us is mistaken on what we believe, what we think others believe, or what is separating us in the first place.
Many times we are not even aware of what the real divide is. For instance, let’s dip our feet into the outrage pool and see if we cannot quickly see how our vision is being blurred intentionally on both sides:
The border issue over the summer of 2018.
It began in the opening weeks of June, with the outrage of pictures of border kids being “abused” and kept in “cages” by the Trump administration. The problem was it was a story from 2014. Many on the left were quickly embarrassed that they were “outraged” by something they all ignored under Obama. The editor of the New York Times, who tweeted the photos, quickly responded that it was “the weekend and the kids had distracted him.” But the speed at which these pictures circulated and the outrage they drew was powerful. So, I believe to turn their humiliation into a righteous cause, they quickly changed “the outrage” to the fact that these kids were being “separated from their parents.” Now, with all of the press on the same page, the fact that Obama not only had the same policy but defiantly defended the same policy in 2014 didn’t seem to matter. This is a problem that began under the Clinton administration. In 1997, the Flores v. Reno Agreement set formal policy for the detention of minors in the custody of the U.S. government’s Immigration and Naturalization Services. It included the guidelines that both the Obama and Trump administrations were following, which did include the detention of illegal-alien minors until a suitable adult relative or guardian could be identified.
However, as is the case with every “Band-Aid,” this only created a bigger problem: human trafficking. Drug cartels realized that if they could smuggle children over the border, they could “conscript” fourteen- to seventeen-year-olds to bring children over the border who would then be released, and the “children” would be given to “relatives.” The children were being sold into slavery. Thus, the Wilberforce Act was passed under George W. Bush to try stop the human trafficking problem caused by the Reno decision. Back to square one and a half. When Obama had a massive influx of “refugees,” the system quickly became overloaded. I know, because I was one of the few “reporters” there. The government was paralyzed, and because it did not see the crisis, the press never showed it to the American people. The very same ICE agents whom Americans are now publicly “stoning” are the people who quietly came to me and begged me to bring attention to what was being done to these kids. Their biggest problem then, as it was mainly underage kids without parents, was the fact that the children were all being separated by age. So, if a group of brothers and sisters came over together, for example, a fifteen-year-old son, a twelve-year-old boy, and a six-year-old sister, they were all placed in different “rooms,” “areas,” or “cages.” The trauma that these children were undergoing was beyond understanding. At one point under President Obama, more than 25,000 children were held. When Trump took over there were still 10,000 in custody. At the time of the media outrage that number had grown to 12,000. Some of the additional 2,000 had been separated from their parents. The vast majority had not been. Had they been ripped apart as brothers and sisters? Most likely the majority of them. But still today, the press doesn’t care about that part of the story. Why? Because the outrage of children being taken by men with guns near barbed wire is more than enough to begin to evoke images of a Nazi concentration camp. CNN actually aired an interview with George Takei, who did a grave disservice by distorting and dishonoring the truth of what FDR did when he interned all Americans of Japanese descent. These were Americans, some of whom were held for months in horse stalls at California racetracks. These citizens, many if not most of whom were born here in America, spent most of the war in American “concentration camps,” without trial or charges. In the end we treated them shamefully, and when it was all over, sent them back “home” here in America with no money, house, or property returned and most likely to hostile neighbors.
But this idea of American concentration camps is a powerful enough outrage to blot out all reason. If you dare say anything but dismantle the SS, which now is ICE, you are for these camps and are a monster. Hitler versus Jesus.
Yet if we can strip away the outrage, let’s look at the facts. Did you know that 70 percent of Americans agree, both right and left, that breaking up families on the border is wrong? Only 4 percent agreed with the Obama or Trump policy. FOUR. That is three times smaller than the number of Americans who deny we actually landed on the moon. That is a small and insignificant group of people.
So what is it that we are fighting over? Well, the media and the left present America with a false option. No borders with no immigration enforcement, or Gitmo. This is not a serious solution for any country.
We need a balance between justice and mercy. Justice meaning if you break the law or cut in line, you are punished, corrected, or at least simply returned to “Go” without collecting $200. Justice is essential in society. Without it, civilizations break down. But it also must be balanced by mercy, or the state devolves into a communistic, Stalinist state. Mercy, in this case, means that we do all we can to ensure that those who need help and are true asylum seekers are given a fair hearing. We must protect the most vulnerable. So, how do we do this? Actually, in this case it is fairly easy. The first thing to do is to secure the border as we hire a butt-load of judges to hear cases at the border in as short a time as possible and find those who are true refugees and those who are not. This would require about five hundred judges in a “night court” sort of system and could turn the cases around in ten to twenty-one days. Refugees stay, as always, and the rest go home. If you do not have valid paperwork proving that these are your children, and refuse to submit to a DNA test, then your “children” are kept here in foster care. (Warning: This is a Band-Aid and a point of failure, but we cannot send them home to foster care, as these places in foreign countries are many times engaged in human trafficking.) At the same time this process is being put into place, the State Department should run ads in Latin America reinforcing the idea that people should NOT send their kids alone to America or come to America as “illegal.” If they need protection, they should immediately go to the U.S. consulate in their area.
Crisis is caused by chaos. The first thing a nation must do in a crisis is to bring clarity. The media and special interest groups are doing the opposite.
Meanwhile, the left and right are left arguing something that only 20 percent actually want: full amnesty and open borders. Which provides neither justice nor mercy. So, why do 80 percent think that half the country is an enemy of freedom or refugees or that the other half wants chaos on the border? Because we are being painted a picture of MS13 gang members gladly being welcomed by the left, or David Duke holding the first Klan campfire on the right. Neither is true. We are all being used.
This is part of the problem to which this book hopes to bring clarity. But it begins with us and our willingness to suppress the “outrage” and look at all sides. A willingness to see how the problem is amplified by each of us. It is easy to see the problem in the other person, or “political team,” and the urge to scream “hypocrite” no matter which team you play for is almost overwhelming at times. But let us, for just a minute, consider that perhaps the other side has a valid reason for calling us names, or we them. Forget about the past, who started it, or even “they are sooo much worse.” Let’s just examine our thoughts, words, and actions. Then, stop listening to the “outrage” and begin to look to the facts on each side. Isn’t the entirety of man’s freedom worth seriously considering this thought? If I am wrong, we may find ourselves fighting in the streets. But if I am correct, it just might mean that if enough of us on both sides begin to drop the outrage and anger, we just may stand a chance and heal this nation.
Millions of us have spent the last several years engaged in our new favorite national pastime, expressing outrage at everyone and everything that is different from ourselves. It’s an epidemic worse and more insidious than our growing crisis of opioid addiction, far worse than our addiction to caffeine, sugar, or fast food, because our Outrage Addiction is destroying our nation. Unlike addictions to so-called vices and chemicals, which are universally recognized as bad for us and therefore carry negative social stigmas, Outrage Addiction adds the enabling element that makes it almost impossible to overcome: It is viewed as a virtue and as proof of our social value. Being constantly outraged is inherently reinforced by everyone around us; it is seen as a demonstration of our moral, cultural, and intellectual awareness, as proof that we are, in fact, “woke.” It’s like your mom finding out you’re using cocaine and then buying you an eight-ball and giving you a pat on the back. With Outrage Addiction, each of us has become a massive enabler of the addiction of those in our tribe, because we provide Outrage Addicts the very real physical, social, and psychological rewards that feed and reinforce their addiction.
Our Thumbs-Up or Like or LOL make each of us an unwitting dope dealer. Thumbs-up? Dopamine surge. Retweet? Serotonin hit. Kicked off a new subreddit thread? Splash of oxytocin. “Dopamine” is the root word of the slang: “dope.” Make no mistake, our addiction to outrage is as real and as chemically rich as the latest street drug, but even worse because it’s 100 percent legal and is being reinforced by the press, social platforms, celebrities, and political leaders.
I say all of this as an admitted and recovering addict myself. Look, I’ve been there and done that. In fact, it’s fair to say that identifying things to be outraged about and expressing that outrage to my audience is part of my day job. And there are certainly things deserving of outrage, though they’re not nearly as prevalent as the media would have you believe.
If you listen to my show, you know that my outrage generally isn’t directed at specific people. I don’t despise any particular Democrat. (Well, maybe Woodrow Wilson.) They all make me furious and have for a long time, but it’s not because I don’t like them as individuals; in fact, I count many who identify on the political left as personal friends. They make me frustrated because I believe their ideas on policy and government are so bad. In fact, I’ve found most of the Democrats whom I’ve known over the years to be downright good, likable people, despite their fanciful, utopian, irredeemably bad ideas. I thought—I knew!—I was CERTAIN that they were all corrupt; I was frustrated by the belief they were terrible liars and they were doing horrible damage to my country. Make no mistake, I still think they are corrupt, but so are the Republicans. As far as the Democrats are concerned, the party as it was even of Obama is now dead. It has been fully hijacked by the über left, and until they begin to listen to the Democratic voters in the center of the country, they are going to have a hard time winning elections. I may be wrong on this, but I still do not believe that the average Democrats in the center of the country believe what is happening in our universities is good, healthy, or right, nor do they agree with partial-birth abortion or that the Second Amendment should be abolished as now almost all of the leadership does. My problem is not with the people who are working hard every day and not living or breathing politics—it is with those who actually are a part of the system, who truly believe that it is best for our schools to pay teachers to sit out their contract and remain on the payroll after they have been wildly inappropriate with children.
But somewhere we began judging people not by their character or their actions but by their political affiliation and beliefs. A person who had different opinions than you wasn’t just wrong but suddenly became a bad, deplorable person, someone not to be trusted. Someone who must be ostracized, isolated, and destroyed. In today’s America, we deem that person a “traitor.” We seem, nowadays, to use that word more than at any time in my lifetime. Does no one see that we are becoming the America of the McCarthy hearings? There were communists in the government in the 1950s, but McCarthy, unfortunately, was a deeply flawed messenger. The real problem was the fact that we believed, as a people, that if you believed in communism, you should be in prison and should have no part in society. How does a country where freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition our government is OUR FIRST AMENDMENT yet try and jail those who believe differently?
This is the path we are on. One where the mistakes of the past will be made all over again. If you do not agree with whomever is in power, you can and will be targeted. You will be targeted by the IRS, the EPA, or the NSA, or by the David Hogg–type of professional outrage peddlers who live their lives in a state of perpetual moral outrage inviting mobs of mindless addicts to join their latest boycott, die-in, or corporate bullying campaign. If you cannot be tried and jailed, then you will be smeared and blackballed. Your name and reputation will be forever destroyed. If you are white, straight, male, and Christian, you will be treated as those who were black, homosexual, or communist were treated in the 1950s. And if you own a gun, eat meat, and express doubt about your truck being the cause for climate change? Huge numbers of your fellow men are literally wishing for your death right now, my friend. Outrage targeting isn’t a weapon used exclusively by those on the left. Just ask any number of celebrities who’ve been the target of a Trump tweet-storm and ended up receiving death threats as the outrage wave crashes over them on social media.
How is it that “progressives” (on both left and right) who believe in the concept that man progresses as a collective do not see that humans are taking giant leaps backward? Those in the past who were called un-American for what they believed, who were treated as second-class citizens simply because of their skin color or forced into the closet for who they were, now support leaders who are deciding which views are un-American, judging people by skin color, and forcing others into a closet.
America is in trouble. We are facing challenges in the near future that literally will change the world. A century of technological advancement will take place in a decade. There are going to be massive shifts in every aspect of society that will cause tremendous upheaval. Entire industries are going to disappear; according to some, we are looking at 30 percent unemployment by 2030.
Think about how blessed we are to live in this country at this time. Both in Obama’s and Trump’s America. Life has literally never been better for humans than it is right now. Never have a people been more free, or better fed, educated, wealthy, and healthy, or had access to information and communication than right now. And yet, if one listens to the media or browses our social media platforms, one would think that we were royally screwed. But what are we all so outraged about? Most of the time, not much.
For all of eternity, man was able to stay alive without a refrigerator, electricity, radio, microwave, or color television. It might have been hot, sticky, and a lot less entertaining, but survival was possible. Today, each of these self-evident “luxury” items (when measured against all of human history) are owned by between 96.3 and 99.3 percent of households.
Take the computer. When Bill Clinton was elected, only 20 percent of American households had one. When Barack Obama left office, more than 80 percent had a computer, more than half had a tablet, and almost everyone had a smartphone far more powerful than any computer used in the Clinton years.
The average piece of land that produces corn now yields 8.6 times as much corn as it did during World War II. This is only one example, and only positive if you like corn, but you get the point. Among other things, these increases in food production have led to a sixty-point drop in the percentage of our disposable income that we spend on food.
The portion of the U.S. population that is homeless and unsheltered is less than 0.1 percent. I’m not saying that doesn’t mean we have more work to do, but in the rest of the world that number is over 20 percent.
The homicide rate in the United States has dropped by about half from the levels of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. While the media constantly warns us of the epidemic of “rape culture,” the rate of forcible rape has dropped by over 30 percent since the 1990s. Even in Hollywood.
Perhaps most surprising is the fact that even the number of school shootings has dropped dramatically. The rate of students killed per million in fatal school shootings has dropped by over 75 percent.
Read that sentence again. Heard that on CNN? Or even Fox?
Researchers at Northeastern noted that this means “four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s as today.” Their summary would shock any modern cable news fanatic: “There is not an epidemic of school shootings.”
In 1952 there were 57,879 cases of polio in the United States. In 2017, there were zero.
Among men in the U.S., death rates from colon cancer have dropped by 30 percent, lung cancer by 40 percent, prostate cancer by 45 percent, and stomach cancer by almost 50 percent, all since 1990. Among women, the death rate from breast cancer has dropped by 35 percent.
Does all that mean we don’t keep trying to improve things? No. Does it mean we should take a moment to review things and gain a little perspective the next time Pundit A or Newscaster B tries to keep us from changing the channel with a headline that says “School Children Under Attack Daily In the U.S.”? Yep, it sure does.
Don’t get me wrong—there are times when the outrage is justifiable, but all too often we seem to be screaming about existential issues like whether Kylie Jenner is ignorant, racist, or both for braiding her hair into cornrows without acknowledging the cultural origin of the style, or whether the Simpsons character Apu is the most racist character in recent history. Geez, if we can get this worked up over issues like this, what happens when we actually hit real problems?
What level of outrage will exist when a third of our population cannot find a job and doesn’t have enough money to pay the bills?
Instead of being outraged about the nation’s ballooning debt, we’re focused on shaming Chance the Rapper into an apology for having the audacity to tweet: “Not all black people have to be Democrats.”
Instead of celebrating the triumph of the first scientist to land an Earth-sourced spacecraft on a comet, we choose to excoriate the guy and label him as a sexist, misogynist pig for wearing a Hawaiian shirt featuring scantily clad women.
A white teenage girl wears what the Internet determines is a Chinese-style dress (it wasn’t), and more than one hundred thousand posts accuse her of cultural appropriation.
When Miss Nevada (in the final year of Miss America that still featured a swimsuit competition) suggests that one way for women to deal with the #MeToo movement is to get self-defense training, feminists attack her for validating rape culture.
When a liberal sex-education instructor had the temerity to refer to “male” penis versus “female” vagina in her descriptions of sexual anatomy, she was attacked relentlessly on social channels. She now refers to these as gender-neutral sexual organs.
Our capacity for outrage has reached the point of the ridiculous.
- Publisher: Threshold Editions (November 19, 2019)
- Length: 400 pages
- ISBN13: 9781476798899
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