At this time of year when local budget deliberations are taking place, I have found that a good way to gauge the public mood is to scan the Letters to the Editor section of the The Newtown Bee.
It is remarkable how much of a range there is -- from controlled and reasonable to practically enraged. This all fell into place when I stumbled across a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
The article covered a lot of ground but briefly it explained the procedure used by psychiatrists and psychologists to gauge anger or, more precisely, Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED).
There's even a National Anger Management Association, and they have a scale that describes five states of anger: calm, annoyed, pretty angry, very angry and enraged (for a full reading, see here.)
I vividly recall attending town meetings several years ago when Newtown was smaller and a tad more conservative. There were indeed numerous examples of folks who were "enraged."
These days, it seems folks save their anger for the opinion pages. I recall a time when The Newtown Bee had a readers' forum on their website where anyone and everyone could weigh in on whatever they wanted.
The forum didn't last long, and I'm not all together certain of why but I think a pretty good guess was because a great many of the comments were clearly rooted in great anger. They were very inappropriate and even personally abusive.
The human condition has always been of interest to me. Before getting my teaching certification, I majored in psychology.
There are many times in the course of a week or so that I see varying degrees of anger. Just being around small children all week is enough but there are also plenty of other examples (e.g. Congressional speeches, fellow motorists, political talk show hosts, blogs, etc.)
It seems to me we need to heed the advice of the experts. Calm down; take a breath; try to be more analytical about the issue; think twice or even three times before pushing that "send" button (it's amazing how many people lose their jobs because of an impulsive act); if it's a letter, put it aside for a day or two. Then re-read it.
In thinking this over I can honestly say I can't remember a single time when I've actually been "enraged." All the others, yes. And lest you start to feel a little guilty, the article explains that a certain amount of anger is not only normal but desirable.
So unless you're ramming another car on the road, don't worry. But if you are, consider getting anger management counseling.
Phew! I'm glad I got that off my chest!