In the past I suggested on a blog that each person could do a little good in the world by sometimes not putting a lid on their drink they purchase at a fast food restaurant. The lids are free, but if you are going to finish the drink in the restaurant and throw the cup away there, does the lid add enough value to your experience to be worth the cost to the environment? The first response to the post was in all caps and was something like, “WHY DON’T YOU F**** COMMIES LEAVE US ALONE! THIS IS THE U.S. AND WE DON’T NEED A NANNY STATE TELLING US WHAT TO DO!!!”
The vehemence of the response seems incredibly inappropriate to me. Why did the poster feel such anger? I suspect the poster’s ire was raised by multiple factors. 1) My suggestion was taken as criticism of his current behavior and it made him defensive. 2) A part of him recognizes the truth and validity that a change of behavior on his part would be better for the environment but he hates being “told” what to do. 3) He especially hates when someone on the left suggests something that is good because it creates cognitive dissonance with his belief that everything the left says or does is bad and everything the right says or does is good.
I think the response highlights the challenges facing the U.S.A. The blog responder is so angry and hates the progressives with such vehemence that he is incapable of accepting or listening to any idea promoted by the left; even when it agrees with his own position. This anger and negativity has been fostered and nurtured over the last decade by personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Sara Palin into what it is today. These right-wing cultivators of anger and fear strive to convert their listeners into mindless zombies that believe everything the conservatives say or do is good and right, while everything the progressives say or do is bad and wrong. This polarization of thought is, of course, bad for the individuals it affects, bad for society, and bad for planet Earth because it creates intolerance of others, vilifies learning, and opposes change and thus prevents progress.