One day when I was talking to a neighbour about something that I wished we could do something about—someone tossing their garbage out of their car onto the road where we walk every day, someone letting their kid drive a dirt bike with no muffler throughout the neighbourhood, someone burning leaves and sending toxic smoke everywhere—and she said something like ‘Calm down, your blood pressure’s going up!’
Well, it wasn’t (my blood pressure has finally creeped up into the normal range, ten years after I stopped running forty miles a week), but I realized then that she wasn’t distinguishing between my cognitive anger, my critical thinking—I was making a point about civility, and respect for others, and the difference between public and private space—and some emotional rant that might end in screaming and slamming doors. I suppose the latter can elevate one’s blood pressure, and if it’s high to begin with, if you’re on blood pressure medication, like so many people are these days, then yeah—calm down. So no wonder people develop a sort of blind and deaf veneer. No wonder they just ‘go with the flow’ and never object. No wonder they avoid thinking about— Well, thinking. It’s literally bad for their health.
But what this means—this inability to distinguish argument from rage, along with the increasing number of people with high blood pressure—is that the more we eat at McDonald’s, the less we’ll get angry about McDonald’s. The more zombied out people are, sprawled on the couch in front of the tv, the more zombied out people will strive to remain. Sprawled on the couch in front of the tv.