The United States of Hysteria: We are a Nation of Toddlers

By Joel A. Hess

While it’s been coming for some time, we have finally become a nation that reacts to everything with hysteria, much like a toddler. Instead of waiting for all the facts, carefully digesting them all, and considering for a moment that an event or person is not 100% evil, we like to jump out the window with inflamed accusations, speeches, and marches! 

This used to be the method of engagement reserved for politicians and actors (Someone in Hollywood once said, “Washington is just ugly Hollywood.”) Both need to sway public opinion by any means necessary. We expect them to act like fools. But now social media has transformed us all into miniature actors and politicians, projecting propaganda-like images of ourselves as we want people to see us and posting one-liner political positions on everything from autism and vaccines to our expertise on immigration.

Some like to blame this elevation of hysteria on Trump. But he is just the hysterical reaction of Middle America toward the professional hysteria of Hollywood and Washington. Both sides seem unable to do or talk about anything without being completely red-faced hysterical.

We are witnessing the speedy decline of Western civilization in her once proud prodigy, America. Like Brad Pitt in that ridiculous movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, America has not grown in wisdom and age, but the reverse. In the beginning, we were the strong, mighty thirty-something. The country was young enough to have great new ideas, yet old enough to be wise and calculating. Perhaps this wonderful era lasted one-hundred years. Since the end of WWII, we took on the attitude of the twenty-something with a certain avant-gardeness and delightful brashness as evidenced in the 40s and 50s. Then with the rebellion of Rock n’ Roll and commercials about cereal geared toward kids and aloof parents, we began to act more like a teenager in the 60s—not really thinking things through, changing our whole life because we read a book, rebelling against wisdom, and thinking we could never die. We were sophomores who crashed dad’s car in the 70s.

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We thought the 60s were embarrassing. Oh no, our reverse aging continued. Alas, we are now toddlers. We throw tantrums on the floor when things don’t go our way. Use your words, our mother says. We don’t want to. Words don’t really mean anything anyways! We did away with that when we were teenagers and thought we knew everything. Without words or the ability to take time and think through things, might makes right. Hysteria is how we deal with crisis. And we cannot be consoled because we don’t want to be.

The American left is not the only side that reacts hysterically; so does the right. Repent, you conservative Christians! Hysteria also marks the debate in your corners. Hysteria may be the sign of unbelief. We throw tantrums because we forget Jesus reigns. We throw tantrums because we forget Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again. We throw tantrums because we forget that we are forgiven and have eternal life, and that it will all be ok. Everything is not dependent upon this or that but upon Christ!

May Christians not be the hysterical ones in our community but the calm in the midst of storm, in order to draw our neighbors into the peace of Christ.

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