A Destructive Crossroads

01/08/2011 07:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Dylan Ratigan New York Times Best-Selling author, entrepreneur and formerly the host of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show

We find ourselves at a violent crossroads. Whether you are a national
voice or an individual without a voice -- there are simple questions
we all must ask ourselves today. As individuals wrestle with either a
modest or an extreme sense of unfairness in the American political
system, the question we have to ask ourselves is "What are we going to
do with that energy?

Whatever is to be said about the state of the gunman today, whether he had psychological issues or not, he was angry. Across America today, people are angry. They may choose to channel that anger in a number of either self-destructive or destructive ways. But whatever any of our feelings are, our challenge and our obligation is to channel that energy into a path based on resolution. For a path based on destruction is just that, destruction.

There are two categories of people. The first category is those in the
powerful elite -- whether you are an active serving political leader
in the legislature, a former political leader, governor or president,
a leader of a non-profit group, or the leader of a political
organization ranging from the NRA, and the Sierra Club, or
whether you are a national or local broadcaster focusing on political
issues or some form of political strategist or advisor. This is the
power class: The group that has a clear avenue of expression and power
inside the political process, inside the political media, and inside
politically organized institutions.

Or you may find yourself as the vast majority of Americans do, as a
passive observer with little sense beyond your ability to vote --
without having an avenue to express your beliefs and ideas when it
comes to the national conversation.

Both the power class and the passive class are experiencing this
sense of frustration and unfairness to one degree or another. As the
internalization of that energy is self-destructive, it begs the
question... How do we as a nation, both as the power class and the
passive class, express and ultimately resolve the ongoing unfairness
that exists in this country to this day? Though we may not like to
believe it, grave unfairness has existed since this country's founding.

Yet, the beauty of the idea that is America is the principle of a
government beholden to all of its citizens. As frustrating as the
unfairness may appear to be, it is imperative we understand the
context that this country has always represented: the ideals of
quality and freedom. But our country has always fallen short -- it has
always been an ongoing process of trying to close the gap between that
unfairness and our ideals.

Today, we find ourselves at a violent crossroads in American history as a
result of our inability, or unwillingness to find a healthy outlet to
resolve these problems. we now have two options. Internalize the
energy into a sea of bile and resentment that will cause you to become
less effective, productive and beneficial to those in your life.
Internalizing this energy without finding a positive recourse is a
recipe for personal disaster. I speak from experience. Internalizing
that energy of unfairness, that frustration and that anger is a recipe
for self-destruction from a personal to a national level.

We now find ourselves with a desperate need for an outlet for that energy, a need
for an outlet that solves our problems rather than destroying
ourselves or those around us.

So I pose two questions: For the power class, how are you using the energy of frustration and
anger that revolves around the unfairness of this country? Are you
using it as a tool to manipulate your environment in order to
accumulate power, wealth, fame, or some other self-serving

For the passive class, have you chosen to deal with your knowledge of
this unfairness either through denial of its existence, or through a
logical apathy founded upon the belief that nothing you do will

It goes without saying that the events of today are a wake-up call
for every American, regardless of their position in this society. And as
we stand as a group at this violent fork in the road, will those
within the power class take this wakeup call to acknowledge the
responsibility they have to utilize their influence to serve the
interests of increased fairness in America -- even if that requires
the suffering of personal losses or losses among your powerbase ?

Understand that whether we like it or not, the personal indulgence of
this exploitation by some in order to accumulate wealth and power is
done so at a mortal danger to all Americans -- each likely as concerned for the
wellbeing of this country as you, the passive class, may believe
yourself to be.

America is in a desperate need of engagement by all of
its citizens, and we all must understand that the luxury of denial and logical apathy
among the passive can no longer be afforded. What we witnessed today
is the worst expression of human nature. The unresolved frustration
that led to today's events not only took the lives of at least five
people, but also destroyed the life of the shooter himself in the
ultimate act of self-destruction. Shockwaves will be sent through the
legislative body of America for months to come.

The path of destruction of ourselves, or of others, is an easy path.
The path of resolution, shared sacrifice, and the brutal honesty
necessary for those who are benefitting the most from the
culture of unfairness that plagues this country today must be

It is easy for someone like myself or anybody else to get up on a
soapbox and point fingers as to who may be given bad guy, or where a given
failure, may exist. But, setting a path to resolve the unfairness that
plagues this country will originate not by looking outward at those
whom we believe are perpetrating a given unfairness, but through a
period of brutally honest inward reflection into the values that each
of us apply to the ways we make the decisions in our days, from one
minute to the next.

It is through investment in internal reflection that we can open the
door to the knowledge that only our own happiness and fulfillment can
manifest a peaceful path to resolving the problems that we face as a

Through that reflection, those in power can ask themselves whether
they can muster the necessary courage to reject the forces of their
own ego and their own paycheck to make what they know is the right

Through that reflection, the passive class can muster the strength to
shed the protections of denial and apathy.

While your voice may feel hollow by itself, the possibility of
becoming part of a national chorus of awakened can serve as a deeper
foundation for the compassion and wisdom to accept our own shortfalls
and those of our leadership as we continue the national trip toward a
more fair and free America.