VOICES: Are you turning Roman?

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Editor's note: This guest column by Ray Marcano appeared on the Dayton Daily News' Ideas and Voices page Sunday, July 26.

We see angry people everywhere we look.

People lashing out because they’re angry they’re asked to wear a mask. Protests over the killing of George Floyd and others turning angry with shameful looting. Our daily discourse is full of anger; just look at any one of hundreds of social media threads.

Ray Marcano, a former Dayton Daily News editor, is a media lecturer at Wright State. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror and a Fulbright fellow.
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Ray Marcano, a former Dayton Daily News editor, is a media lecturer at Wright State. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror and a Fulbright fellow.

So why are we so angry? There’s a one-word answer.

Fear.

We live in a time of fear. We’re angered by coronavirus, a silent, unseen enemy that alters life and kills. Restrictions on travel, eating out, and shopping anger customers and business owners. The inability to hug elderly relative angers people. We get angry because our social circles and activities have shrunk.

And fear kicks in because we have no idea when it will end.

We’re very angry over the direction of the nation with 75 percent of voters saying we’re on the wrong track.

Democrats fear — to the point of being apoplectic — that President Trump will win another four years. Republicans fear — to the point of being apoplectic — that he won’t. That fear manifests itself in anger that pits neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and family against family.

We’re angry at the reaction to the protests over racial inequality that have engulfed the nation. One side casts the protesters as would-be anarchists and fear an America without sufficient law and order. The other side sees this as the time for hope and change, and fears what will happen if this moment passes them by.

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We’re angry about unemployment and the lack of health care. We fear what happens without a paycheck, or if we get sick.

If we’re not careful, fear will turn us into the next Roman Empire. All dynasties fall and fear could very well lead us down that path.

Rome fell for several reasons, including, “It’s sheer size made it difficult to govern,” and, “Ineffective and inconsistent leadership only served to magnify the problem.”

It’s a cop-out to say we don’t have leadership during this time of fear. Nan Whaley’s strength and compassion during the deadly tornadoes and the horrific Oregon District shooting shows why Dayton is lucky to have her as mayor. Gov. Mike Dewine has received national praise for his COVID-19 work (despite the inexplicable criticism he gets in his home state). In each of our communities, we have people trying to lead us away from anger so we can conquer fear.

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Besides, who’s the best leader to conquer the ugly twins of anger and fear?

You.


Ray Marcano, a former Dayton Daily News editor, is a media lecturer at Wright State. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror and a Fulbright fellow.

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