“Why Is America So Angry?” — read Seth Greenland’s piece from our current issue, online now

IIlustration by André Slob

Someday, maybe somebody will explain why so many of us are so mad these days. But for now, says Seth Greenland — author of The Angry Buddhist,and a writer-producer on the HBO series Big Love — let’s consider what to do about it.

His article from the September 2013 Shambhala Sun, “Why Is America So Angry?”, is now online for you to read in its entirety; just click here.


  1. Darcy Mackenzie says

    There are obviously many factors contributing towards anger in our culture. One thing I've noticed tends to sow the seed of anger is the customer/employee/citzen split most people experience in their lives. Advertising and the customer service model reinforces the ego, telling us that we are special and deserving – the more we engage in this model, the more we believe that we should have whatever we want, when we want. As social services and government programs increasingly shift the language in service from "client" or "patient" to "customer", we begin to experience even services we are not paying for (directly) as one in which "we (the customer) is always right." Thus entitlement transcends class and cash, and just becomes inherent to identity.

  2. Darcy Mackenzie says

    At the same time, there are many situations in which we are either an employee, on the other end of this equation, or a member of general society, operating in a "try to be a selfless, good citizen" mode. Religious thinking encourages this type of orientation, re-affirming the sense that the truly good person is totally selfless and giving (an ideal that is just as confusing as the entitled view, if you don't really understand interedependence). Corporate culture capitalizes on religious thinking to tie labour to ethics – to be a good person is to work hard to support the capitalist system – to "serve" the customer.

  3. Darcy Mackenzie says

    Caught between two opposing roles, it's not surprising that when faced with a situation where we don't get what we want, we get agitated and stressed, and it can come out as anger – either we're angry because we are not used to not getting our way and it's very uncomforrable, or we are angry because we believe we "should" be more selfless (and maybe we should!), but we don't know how in that moment, and project that anger outwards at the other – guilt transmuted to rage.

    Combine all this with "habit energy" and too much overstimulation, and it's not surprising that even pacifists are starting to behave angrily!