I did something stupid today. I got mad at my phone.
And that’s a big part of what’s wrong with the world.
Not the fact that I got mad. I’m obviously not that powerful. And thank goodness that I’m not: If I were, at least half of the drivers on the road would have been vaporized by now.
But my phone continued playing some music after I’d turned it off.
So I uttered a curse word, picked up the phone, and held its power button to shut it down completely.
That’ll teach it. Damn phone. It’ll think twice before crossing me again.
Of course, that was all pretty stupid. Even though my phone is a sophisticated electronic device, it’s an inanimate object. It neither tries to help me nor to frustrate me. It just does what it’s designed to do.
But I was annoyed, and my phone was there, so I lashed out at my phone.
And that illustrates the problem.
When we’re unhappy, angry, or frustrated, we look for someone or something to blame. We don’t look at ourselves, because we’re sure that we couldn’t be the problem. We look elsewhere. And we find the villain:
- The phone
- The microwave oven (yes, I’ve had stern conversations with it, too)
- The economic system
- People who disagree with us
And it’s usually none of those things. So we ignore the real problem and we start screaming about things that have nothing to do with it.
Not only do we often falsely accuse entire groups of people; we also fail to address the real causes of our unhappiness.
Then the people we’ve accused get angry about our accusations.
And we get even unhappier because they won’t stop making us unhappy, which they can’t stop doing because they didn’t do it in the first place.
We can at least try to do better. Very often, as Shakespeare observed:
“The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
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