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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7 thoughts on “The United States of Hysteria: We are a Nation of Toddlers

  1. Wow. I find it slightly offensive that you equate peaceful demonstrations done in the name of protecting “the least of these” with that of a tantruming toddler. Indeed, our hope and strength is found in Christ, and we are confident in his providence, but that’s not a free pass to sit on our a$$es and watch as others suffer. I appreciate your reminder to be the calm in the midst of the storm; I also encourage you to seek out ways you can demonstrate to this country and world that truly ALL lives matter.

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  2. We are not hysterical because we are toddlers. We are disturbed when the President fires the entire management of the state department, kicks the joint chiefs of staff off the national security council and instead appoints a white nationalist, fires the attorney general for upholding the rule of law, tells the National Parks, the EPA, and the USDA that they are no longer allowed to speak to the media, calls for the creation of secret prisons that use enhanced interrogation techniques (torture), calls a press conference to deliberately lie about his popularity; issue executive orders to outlaw Muslims and people from countries where he doesn’t have business interests. The protests are people who believe in things like (a) the constitution (b) the freedom of the press (c) checks and balances.

    We protest precisely because Christ reigns.

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    1. Ya, death threats and violence are are not constitutional, they are terrorism. And fake news is not freedom of the press. Where are the checks and balances for this ?!

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    2. So were you getting all worked about the sins of Obama over the last eight years as he worked diligently to implement his neo-Marxist agenda, as he rode roughshod over the rights of Christians, as he promoted abortion relentlessly across the world, as he made life increasingly difficult for small business which is really the backbone of the economy and the main provider of work for the nation and as went rampaging around the world in his war-mongering ways. Your vehemence and indignation is so transparently self-serving. Besides, when we who have a different vision of the nation than that embodied by the Obamas and the Clintons of the world had to endure eight years of bad government, we didn’t go rioting. We didn’t throw tantrums on the street. We didn’t behave like unruly, spoiled children. We didn’t trash the cities. We didn’t beat people. Instead, we took our lumps and went about the hard work of trying to convince people of the correctness of our position. I protest your protest because Christ reigns over all the hypocrisy of the progressives who truly imagine in their delusions that they alone have wisdom.

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  3. June 15, 1215 – rebels force King John to sign the Great Charter affirming liberities. The sense of freedom we receive from our English roots really blossoms, here.

    Dec. 16, 1773 – the Sons of Liberty protest the Tea Act by destroying private, corporate-owned property in Boston Harbor. We salute our heroes.

    Britain responds with the Coercive Acts and colonists, everywhere go into the streets to protest. We salute our heroes.

    Continental Congress convenes to petition their rightful, lawful, and legal government. Smugglers like Hancock, land speculators like Washington, and poor businessmen like Jefferson, in debt to their eyeballs to English banks and hopelessly mired in mercantile economy declare a separation from this same government. We salute our heroes.

    Abolitionists defy the law and provide and Underground Railroad. Freed slaves, technically criminals, are permitted to live openly in several states defying the law of the land. We salute our heroes.

    The road westward is paved over the dead bodies and exiles of native peoples, land is handed to railroads and millionaires sprout from the handouts, land claims are granted for little in return, the commons are rented for pitifully low costs for grazing and mining. We salute those who, on the strength of handouts, founded a hypocritical notion of bootstrapping.

    Often glossed over as economic war, the right to subject portions of humanity to slavery is tested by bloodshed. We salute traitors by naming military installations after them and we look for excuses to keep flying their battle flag against our nation.

    Jim Crow rises and riders terrorize new citizens, are glorified in books and films. The specter of racism was and is often romanticized and worshiped. 180 years after our nation was born, people took to the streets in peaceful protest for the rights granted to them by our principles. Those marches and protests, throwing a light on injustice, moves a nation to change. those protesters, those marchers who walked peacefully into water cannons, were set upon by dogs, beaten by those sworn to protect the people are heroes.

    Say what you want, Stonewall, the LGBT movement, long, slow, peaceful protest have wrought great changes in the laws and influenced society. At the same time, 45 years of pro-life marches have seen dwindling support in attendance and public opinion.

    This is not unique to this nation. Protests for freedom and against injustice, marches, outcry, civil actions all work to effect change. But, somewhere, people draw the line at accepting a moral argument as a justice argument. An why should they? God’s justice is for Him to suffer for our sin. His grace gives what we do not deserve and His mercy withholds what we do deserve. We should not conflate a fight for social justice or resistance to injustice with the Church or think that simply being in the Church exempts us from a social fight.

    “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

    “Things do exist that are worth standing up for without compromise. To me it seems that peace and social justice are such things, as is Christ himself.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    This is not a child’s or a childish game or a tantrum. If the marchers and protesters offend your sense of social justice, present your own sense of it. The action is not rapid, the things driving it have been seething for a long time and the gates have opened. Obviously, I will take my stand with those persecuted for their accidents of birth, ethnicity, race, religion, those most heavily accused by this sinful world.

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  4. I don’t see Trump as a “hysterical reaction” but the “logical reaction” to the lefts past 8 years of cramming their agenda down all of America’s throats. Beat a dog long and hard enough and he will eventually turn on you. The result is rarely pretty.

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