As I approached day number six of a full on "chemotherapy detox" process in the peaceful isolation of the Tucson desert, I was reminded how noisy and all consuming the mind is.
The parallels of healing disease, addiction and racism had never penetrated my brain before receiving a diagnosis for stage four uterine cancer two years ago. Similar to facing addiction or admitting racism, upon confrontation of the sobering pronouncement of malignancy came utter shock, disbelief, denial, sadness, acceptance and eventually, grief.
However odd to say, fighting a life threatening disease was the perfect assignment for someone who identified themselves as a soldier of peace. Until cancer, I gave dutiful lip service to silence and contemplation but mostly devoted my attention and energy to combating injustices -- whether racial, social or environmental -- and very loudly.
My personal outrage fit perfectly with a 24-hour news cycle that cranks out grievances that pummel us into accepting celebrity infidelity scandals, embittered political "battles" or technological developments (that drive us farther from ourselves) as worthy of our undivided fixation and obsession.
For some -- depending on political and ideological identification -- the transgressions of Tiger Woods, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and the latest healthcare reform debacle can feed the cancerous rage within. Not unlike multiplying white blood cells in a compromised immune system, noxious headlines in rapid succession inhibit our discernment and inspire a fight of flight response -- anger and retaliation. Like cancer cells feeding on sugar, with every toxic news morsel we fuel a craving for more indignation.
Outraged by Tiger's infidelities and yet can't stop watching for updates claiming he is beyond rehabilitation or redemption? Still reeling from the latest Palinist book tour faux pas or Rush-ism with racial overtones? No fear, the next installment of Keith Olberman might just assuage the sting and even the score. And if you hate all things Obama and fear we are careening our way to hell in a hand basket of socialism just flip on Fox to Bill O'Reilly and feel the relief.
What is the essence of our addictive outrage?
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