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Ganesh K Kamath

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Righteous Indignation
by Ganesh K Kamath   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, April 17, 2009
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009

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A casual observer's take on righteous indignation.

While there are many forms of indignation, far too numerous for one to try and enumerate every single one of them, there is one particular kind of indignation that I view with a weary eye. It is righteous indignation. That’s right. After a great deal of thought and deliberation I have decided that of all the many forms of indignation, it is the one form of indignation that I view with the greatest circumspection.


Why would anyone have an issue with righteous indignation? It is, after all, righteous, isn’t it? And righteous naturally implies virtuous, upright, just, moral and honorable. As I see it, it is all of those and uptight as well. Have you ever noticed how most people that are given to expressions of righteous indignation are often uptight, overbearing, egotistic and just plain insufferable? They have egos the size of football fields and intellect comparable to that of jackasses.


Before going any further, we should perhaps try to discern the cause for this abominable form of indignation. My research – much of it done from the comfort of my armchair, and without the aid of any tools except my mental faculties which are, I assure you, not inconsiderable – indicates that there are two primary reasons responsible for the outburst of righteous indignation. Let us explore these two reasons in a little detail.


One reason for an outburst of righteous indignation is that the person expressing it has never done whatever act or thought it is that is has triggered this outburst. For instance, take the case of a young man who has been apprehended smoking weed by his self-righteous father who has never smoked weed ever in his life. This wretched young man is almost certain to suffer an outburst of righteous indignation at the hands of his holier-than-thou parent. While no parent will dispute that the young man’s behavior as being inappropriate and inexcusable, most will let the miscreant off with a stiff lecture, and an additional solicitation of promise to stay away from such nefarious activities in the future. All this is being said while the confiscated goods are being discretely pocketed for later “analysis”. Not so with the indignant parent. This particular parent will express righteous indignation in its full splendor, as it were, repeatedly stating the phrase “when I was your age” over and over again, amidst fits of apoplectic rage.


The other reason for the eruption of righteous indignation is that the person expressing it has been there, done that and has now given it up. Now this person expects the whole world to recognize this great act of supreme sacrifice on his/her part and acknowledge it with great regularity. Or else? It is righteous indignation waiting to happen. Consider the example of a person who has quit smoking for several years, and then one fine day finds himself/herself in a bar where the clientele has yet to be fully convinced of the health risks posed by smoking. Perhaps they believe that, the persistent hacking cough and the discoloration of the finger nails and teeth notwithstanding, the anti-smoking campaign is nothing more than a government ploy to raise tobacco taxes. Whatever may be their reason for not quitting, there they sit, puffing in quiet tranquility and thoughtful serenity. The ex-smoker will be more indignant than the other non-smokers around him, with his vitriolic righteous indignation punctuated with phrases like “I cannot stand it…”, “why is it so hard for people to…” and “of course I had the strength to…”.


Having successfully determined the two potential causes for righteous indignation, we can now proceed to the next important step. How does one recognize righteous indignation? It is very important to be able to recognize it if one is to avoid it, and avoid it one must at all cost. It may surprise you to know that righteous indignation can be recognized more easily than one may think. Look for the following signs, all of which accompany expressions of righteous indignations described above: severely knit eyebrows, eyebrows knit so severely that they appear to be tangled in a knot which one fears will be quite impossible to untangle, except perhaps surgically when the bout of indignation has subsided – yes, indeed, it does subside, but only after what appears to be an eternity; apoplectic rage that can be detected from great distances by the deep red hue which permeates the face and neck regions; the fierce waving of arms in a very wild and animated manner; the piercing stare that is always directed down at the victim, yes directed down, even if the one directing the malevolent stare is shorter in stature that the one at whom it is being directed – I have not been quite able to explain this phenomenon, but I hypothesize that it is because the one expressing righteous indignation always feels that he/she is above the rest of us; and the tiny specs of froth that are invariably present at the corners of their mouths which get large and foamy as the speaker works himself/herself into a state of self righteous frenzy.


What should one do when one detects righteous indignation in action? If it is not being directed at you, count your blessings and run with great speed and alacrity in the opposite direction. If, however, you were being inattentive and find yourself in the midst of one, you probably deserve it; nevertheless, the only thing to do is run for your dear life. This is one of those situations in which the genteel philosophy of women and children first should be wisely abandoned. Should you find access to an automobile, and in the process of getting away overrun a few pedestrians and find yourself in court, do not worry in the least. Just explain to the judge that you were fleeing a full-blown act of righteous indignation and you will hear the words “Not guilty” uttered even before the explanation has left your lips. Since people in the midst of expressing deep felt righteous indignation are given to looking around from time to time in the hope that they can strike down other individuals in the vicinity that are deserving of it at the same time – there is plenty of it to go around as it is being delivered in all its foaming and frothing glory - you can seize that opportunity to make good your escape. If you stick around too long, you risk other self-righteous individuals joining in this tirade – righteous indignation, not much unlike misery, loves company – and then it is too late. Escape is impossible. It is best to grin and bear it at this point. The only other option would be to spread out a yoga mat, if one should be available at that unfortunate moment, lie down and quietly pray for death to come and deliver you from the misery. This may not be an option since no one ever finds a yoga mat when they really need one. Yoga mats are rather elusive that way.


I have no more to say on his matter. You may now consider yourself fully educated on all the aspects of righteous indignation – its causes and detection, avoidance and escape. Just make sure that you never catch yourself expressing righteous indignation. Then all this valuable education will surely have gone to waste.


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