I would say the common, expected things make me angry about the world—cruelty, injustice, oppression, discrimination.
When I was in high school, I became obsessed with apologetics as a way of “proving” the truth to others. I envisioned how influential I could be if I stuck with it, lived up to my potential, and learned the Truth—capital “T”—that was there in plain sight if only we would apply ourselves to learning it. Then, I would be able to overcome the fallacious arguments of my opponents, hopefully accomplishing a total conversion from their viewpoint to the Truth.
The older I get the more common I suspect this crusade is among those like me, of my class, education, and background. Twist it around a little, though, and I believe most everyone can identify with the basic aim, which is chiefly to right wrongs and achieve justice in the world. It is not the same as the loyalty one feels to one’s country, city, or sports team. I wanted to convince people of these things for their own good, because I thought they were right, because I knew they were right. C. S. Lewis, my first and greatest literary love, once said himself in my first apologetics bible Mere Christianity that the worst tyrant is that who does what they do for our own good, for then they will stop at nothing. But I couldn’t see at the time how self-conscious his statement should have made me.
Right thinking, I believed, depended entirely on a flawless philosophical framework, which would produce by necessity good and righteous people, and if only one were educated enough about theology, if only one were well versed enough in the errors of the predominant godless philosophies of our day, if only one were charismatic enough, intelligent enough, and committed enough, a massive conversion could and would happen. Thus, justice would be restored.
Now, the thing that angers me most about the world are the injustices caused by this very way of thinking, what you could call Exoteric Proselytism. It is obviously chiefly concerned with influence, but its measure of success is based on an intellectual acceptance of a specific philosophical framework rather than the development of people of a certain moral quality. Obviously, the latter is pretty much impossible to measure with any certainty, though it would be the more authentic aim of a true evangelist for goodness. And it turns out that the desire for certainty becomes the chief culprit of future injustices.
A person’s morality cannot be categorized and measured like an organ or an appendage can. It is ultimately a fully private affair, not that their actions do not affect others, but that their development, cannot be accurately judged by anyone external to their interior life.
Certitude is a convenience of those who are too scared or too uneducated to understand that the truth of people and our world is mystery and not certainty. And this demands a host of changes to the way we understand ourselves and others, and the way we interact with each other. Accepting mystery as the chief principle makes us much more humble, much less concerned about the faults of others, and much more concerned about our own faults. It causes us to become our biggest critics and my neighbor’s biggest advocate, for the only person whom I can change is myself. This is not an imperative to judge others according to my own standards, thinking them too soft, too weak, too corrupt if they cannot imitate my morals. Rather, it is a lesson that I am the only one who can rightfully bear my own criticism, but I owe to myself as well as to all others my unconditional support and love, and hope for all our betterments.
Education for me means coming to terms, first, with the multiplicity of viewpoints, and simultaneously, the common dignity of each, for each one is a human viewpoint, and if in humility I recognize my own humanity, I more than likely can see how I, too, contain the seeds of this other viewpoint as well, and could have held it had my situation been different. And in navigating multiple view points, you realize that there is a common human element overarching these once seemingly all important technical details, the vocabulary of our philosophies.
It took a great deal of education and reflection on my part to see the disastrous consequences of my original exoteric view. And I feel that this view is responsible for a majority of all the violence in the world. So it is very important to me that I achieve a new sort of conversion to those around me, but the aim becomes humility in one’s own views, and respect for the views of others.